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J 1 45 S^ 35.4a 




(CLASS OF 188J) 









* *.■ 


<o THE 









104 AND 106 Fourth Avenue 



?s.X^Sg . 3i, 4,c^ 






Copyright, 1893, by 

A/i rights reservtd* 



Aajot^Oenetal |>atdcft Aaiwellt 





II. KateDarnlsy, 6 

III. Captain Cadman, lo 

IV. Mate of the ** Hebe," i8 

.^^V. The "Hebe" Sails, 26 

VI. A Difficulty, . . .^ 33 

VII. A Plot, 40 

VIII. The Great Salvage Watering Scheme, . . .47 

IX. The Salvages, , . . . .54 

X. The Barilla Cutter, 63 

XI. Blades OF THE "Caroline," 71 

XII. The " Earl of Leicester," 83 

XIII. Trapped, 89 

XIV. Brigstock's Story, 96 

XV. An Unexpected Meeting, 104 

XVI. Brigstock's Scheme, 114 

XVII. The Women 122 

XVIII. I Take Command, 132 

XIX. The " Pardners," 142 

XX. A Chat with Kate, 153 

XXI. The Emigrants' Dinner, 163 

XXII. A Forecastle Dance, 174 

XXIII. The Women's Plot, 187 

XXIV. Imprisoned, 196 

XXV. Adrift, 204 

XXVI. Brigstock's Visit, . . • . • . . 212 




XXVII. The Oath, aax 

XXVIII. A Sailor's Tombstone 33s 

XXIX. At Prayers, 244 

XXX. My Girl Crew, 253 

XXXI. The Horn, 265 

XXXII. My Oath, 275 

XXXIII. Bull's Island, 284 

XXXIV. The Sailors Decide, 293 

XXXV. The Start for Sydney, 304 

XXXVI. A Second Suicide, 315 

XXXVII. A Newspaper Cutting, and the Story Proceeds, . 329 

XXXVIII. Conclusion 336 




" Stop ! " said I. 

" Wo ! " cried the driver. 

The old horse, clanking in its harness like a chain topsail 
sheet in a squall, halted and I mounted upon my sea chest 
in the cart to take a view of the scene. 

The month was early August, the year 1850. The after- 
noon was beautiful and rich with a sky full of large, low-fioat- 
ing clouds, which as they soared gave their white breasts to 
the kisses of the distant hilltops. On one side can a mile or 
two of level meadows, painted with red and brindled cows 
and white sheep. Afar glanced a dusty road, snaking past 
masses of trees to the summit of a green hill. I caught sight 
of the olive and purple light of the river, and the distant 
fields were studded with haystacks like giant toadstools. A 
soft air blew over the country ; to my salt-hardened nostrils the 
sweets it brought seemed to combine into one marvelous per- 
fume of raspberry. 

Do you want to know how refreshing and fair beyond all 
prospects of meadow, hill, and valley which this great world 
has to offer is an English landscape viewed on an August 
afternoon, when the land is piebald with the blue shadows of 
clouds, and when the wind in the trees cools the hot buzz of 
the bluebottle with a quiet seething as of expiring foam ? 
Come to it after three years and some months of coarse sea- 
faring 1 

" Go on," said I to the carter. 

" Jee oop ! " cried the man, fetching the stern of his horse 
It friendly thump with a truncheon. Again the old brass- 


bound, chain-laden harness rattled ; the wheels creaked. I 
emptied my pipe^nd sat me upon my sea chest. We had but 
a short distance to go. I stared with devouring eyes. We 
rumbled down a lane, and then into a kind of village street. 
Well knew I the house that slighted the neighborhood by 
giving its blank back to the public highway and its face of fra- 
. grant windows and pleasant porch to its own green, sweet- 
smelling grounds behind the wall ; also the dirty little cottage 
with two leering windows and a paralyzed door, and the dirtier 
little cottage beside it remarkable only for not having been 
the birthplace of a poet ; also the stone dog's head spouting 
a stream of crystal water into a trough, and the white-faced 
inn with a faded portrait of Lord Nelson hanging over a 
blackbird's wicker cage, which shook with loud melody as I 
passed. I seemed likewise to remember the yellow cur that 
eyed us from the doorway of the Nelson inn ; I recollected its 
manner of wagging everything about its hinder parts but its 
stump of tail. The mob of hens opposite the little cottage 
faced by three yews trimmed into a likeness of immense tee- 
totums were also familiar, particularly the. large black rooster 
which lay in the dust with one leg forked out under one wing. 

We rounded the corner, and I saw the church on my right, 
the white tombstones in its shadow, and the red flag of the 
English merchant service floating from the short mast on the 
top of the tower. Here was a beautiful lane with a fine 
avenue of trees which carried the eye to the thickly wooded 
hillside a mile beyond. The cart rumbled me a little way 
past the church, and then the driver stopped at a gate. A 
tall hedge went on either hand that gate, and behind the 
hedge and through the trees you caught with difficulty a 
glimpse of an old-fashioned house with a red roof and bur- 
nished windows darkly shining. among creepers. 

Scarcely had I jumped out of the cart when the gate was 
opened, and in a moment my father was straining me to his 
heart. A few moments later my mother was holding me by 
both hands, kissing me, and exclaiming in her delight, and 
stepping backward to look at me, only to give me another 

My father was the Rev. Joseph Morgan ; this parish was 
Blathford, and he was vicar of it. His church stood nearly 
opposite his house ; St. John's it was called. He had lived 
twenty years in the place. His face was beautiful with benevo- 
lence ; he was now about sixty years of age, very gray, his 
smile slow and sweet, his figure tall and wonderfully erect. 
His living was a beggarly yield, and he was a poor man, the 


poorer by reason of his having to maintain a married daughter 
by his first wife, who had died in giving birth to the child. 
And that is one reason why I went to sea. 

The carter shouldered my sea chest, and with my mother's 
hand in mine I followed my father into the house. We went 
into the dining room, and as we entered a girl standing in the 
window turned her face to us. 

" Kate, dear," said my mother, taking me up to her, " this is 
my son Charles, fresh from sea. Think, Kate ! we have not 
seen him, as you know, for three years and three months." 

She then introduced me to the girl, Miss Kate Darnley. I 
had met her father once ; he was a parson, and lived at Bris- 
tol ; he was very poor, I recollect, but got along with the help 
of a trifling annuity topped by an occasiorial call to preach a 
sermon or to take duty, as it is termed, for which he received 
a guinea or two. Kate was in mourning ; the melancholy, 
depressing attire told me I need not ask what had become of 
her father. We shook hands, and I looked in her face and 
admired her. She was dark, with a great plenty of black hair, 
a soft blushing complexion, and large sparkling black eyes. 
My mother went out to see after my chest. 

" I told Wilkinson to hoist the ensign," said my father ; " it 
is the only parish welcome I can offer." 

The table was laid for a late dinner, an alarming departure 
in the habits of my primitive parents. 

" This is worth going to sea to enjoy, Miss Darnley," said 
I, looking round the pleasant little room. How familiar the 
low ceiling, the high mantelpiece, the great picture of my 
paternal grandfather (dressed in a red coat, and leaning with 
one hand upon a cannon) hanging over the ancient, dark side- 
board, which had come sliding into Blathford vicarage through 
five generations of my mother's people. 

" Call her Kate," said my father. 

But here my mother stepped in to carry me upstairs, where 
more hugging happened, and though we talked swiftly, our 
conversation ran us into half an hour. 

" Charlie, you have grown." 

" I have broadened just one inch, but I have not risen by 
the dark of a finger nail. It is nearly all stooping with us 
sailors ; it curves our spines, and so we're called shellbacks. 
Kate Darnley's a pretty girl, rather." 

" Poor Kate ! She is very much to be pitied. Her father 
died and left her with only a few pounds. She was forced to 
go out as a governess, but she found so much difficulty in 
obtaining a situation that she had serious thoughts of becom- 


ing a domestic servant. Only think of Kate^ who is really a 
charming, refined lady, as a housemaid." 

"Where does she live ?" 

" About thirty miles away. The family gave her a holiday, 
and we invited her here for a few days. She stays till next 
Monday. How battered your sea chest is." 

"That's through cutting plug tobacco upon it" 

" Do you want any money, dear ? " 

" I have plenty." 

" Plenty; well, come ! " 

I pulled a leather bag full of sovereigns and notes out of my 
pocket, and plumped the treasure down upon the dressing table. 

" There's above three years* pay there," said I, " less slop 
chest and other deductions." 

" It's hardly earned money, my poor boy." said she, taking 
my face in her hands and kissing me again. " How often have 
I prayed for you on stormy nights." 

" And perhaps we, at the same time, were praying in the' 
speech of sailors for a little of the wind that was making you 
uneasy. How is old Perkins ? Is little fat Miss Smithers mar- 
ried yet ? How is the congregation getting o;i ? Does the 
plate come back heavier after its Sabbath round ? No more 
buttons, I hope, and sixpences taken out as change for three- 
penny bits." 

** It's a struggle," said my mother. And so we talked. 

I stood abreast of a sheet of looking-glass in a wardrobe, 
and got a good view of myself. This is seldom Jack's privi- 
lege. He shaves in an inch or two of cracked mirror and 
knows not what figure he cuts till he steps ashore. I was a 
great lump of a man for my three and twenty years, not fat — 
no, there is nothing in the harness cask to run the body with 
blubber. I was a large shape of tough muscle from neck to 
heel, and when I flung my weight on a halyard or a sheet it 
was to leave but little more for the fellows to do than gather 
in the slack. And yet when my father had put me to sea'as 
a boy of fourteen the captain might have drawn me through 
the neck of his whislcy bottle. I was burnt black with the sun ; 
my eyes were a dark blue and my hair a dark brown. I had 
packed some new clothes in my chest at Bristol, but still wore 
the things I had come ashore in, and so showed somewhat 
raggedly, like, indeed, the end of a mighty long voyage ; but 
on my mother's going I smartened myself up, I shaved, and 
shifted me to the shoes on my feet, and when I joined them in 
the parlor I was a new man in my fresh linen and shore-going 


At the table I did most of the talk. It is a narrow horizon 
that bounds scarce more than hens and a churchyard and a 
village pump, yet life goes but little beyond such things in the 
old parish of Blathford. I spoke of the ports I had visited, 
described icebergs and gales of wind, the whale spouting its 
fountain to the moon under the line, and the captured albatross 
off the Horn with a missive from a shipwrecked company 
under its wing. My mother could not eat for listening ; Kate 
Darnley 's black eyes glowed as they fastened themselves upon 
me ; sometimes my father smiled, and occasionally an expres- 
sion of incredulity mingled with the sweetness of his looks. 

" Oh, that I were a man ! " cried out Kate, dropping her 
knife and fork to clasp her white hands on a level with her 

"«Yes, indeed ! " said my mother. " A young man." 

" Would you be a sailor ? " I asked. 

" Not I. Oh, no, Mr. Morgan, I would travel and see the 
world and settle in the best part of it, which certainly is not 
England," answered the girl. 

" How long are you ashpre for, Charles ? " asked my father. 

" Haven't you heard the news ? " said I. 

** What ? " cried my mother eagerly. 

'' Old John Back's dead and his five ships are sold. His 
son's realized everything, down to the oldest of the office 
stools, and has gone abroad to live. The firm's at an end — 
knocked clean into staves. A pity, for I've been counting all 
this voyage on old Johnny giving me command next time." 

'* I had heard that old Mr. Back was ill," said my father, 
'* but had no idea he was dead. Poor old Mr. Back ? He 
received us very kindly when we called upon him at Bristol. 
But existence at Blathford is the life of an oyster. Little or 
nothing of news drains through the shell of the placid year." 

"Well, dear, here is a comfortable home for you,"46aid my 

" I shall spend some time with you," said I. '* Mean viles I 
keeps mine vedder eye lifting, as Yon says. 1*11 stop till I've 
passed as master. I deserve command, and mean to get it if 
I can. And after such a sickening spell of brine as I'm fresh 
from, a few weeks or even months of the scent of the milk- 
maid '11 not hurt me." 

After dinner I went to my chest and brought down some 
trifles of curiosities. I gave Kate Darnley a Chinese silver 
brooch, and I had not guessed how pretty she was till she 
thanked me for the flimsy fal-lal. It was the first night of my 
home-coming after a long absence, even as seafaring then 


went, and my father and mother sat up in celebration till 
eleven o'clock to '< make a night of it," as the dear souls said. 
My father smoked not, neither did he drink. I did both ; so 
too did my father's curate, who looked in at eight to ask a 
question, and was invited to remain that light supper might be 
spread before him. This curate, as the evening advanced, 
looked with animation at Kate Darnley, and the ejaculations 
and observations which my stories and recollections provoked 
him into he addressed chiefly to her. But her ears and eyes 
were mine that evening. My talk put a spirit into her looks 
which attracted my calm mother's notice. 

After everybody was gone to bed and I sat alone smoking 
my last pipe, I could not help thinking how great a pity it was 
that so fine a young woman should be alone in the world, 
obliged to get a living by drudging as a governess, and with 
no brighter prospect than marriage. 



In this first week of my being at home I never opened a 
book nor troubled myself with a professional thought. I had 
received a hundred and twenty pounds when I left the bark 
Wanderer at Bristol ; the money represented about forty 
months of service as mate, less certain odds and ends of 
clothes and advances. I was a sailor, but no sailor's sailor, 
without taste for the grog shop and the bully-in-the-alley 
diversions. I hated the Jack of the crimps, the salt and sav- 
age pet and despair of the waterside missionary, the hairy 
ruffian who, in fur cap and half Wellingtons, with a hanging 
face and eyes on fire with over-proof rum, lurches with scowls 
and drunken yelps through the slums of the dock and shipping 

The mere being in the country with miles of meadows and 
hedges betwixt one and the wash of the breakers, betwixt one 
and the sickening rattle of the lifting cranes of the quayside, 
and the loud melancholy pulse of the capstan pawls, was a huge 
delight of itself. I let the whole spirit of the country sink 
into me by lounging and roaming about after the manner of 
the poet Wordsworth, who waited for sentimental ideas wher- 
ever he found a stile or a tombstone to sit upon. I'd lay for 
hours on my back in a field, with my pipe stuck up out of my 
mouth, and a straw hat rakishly perched on my nose, and not 


only forget that I was a sailor, but even that I was a man, in 
watching the clouds slide overhead, in smelling the sweets in 
the wind, in hearkening to the buzzing, barking, lowing noises 
of the land. Yes, at such times I was nearer being a daisy 
than a man, and was certainly much more of a haystack than 
a sailor. 

I gave Kate Darnley a wide berth at the start, conceiving 
that my father's curate had a leaning that way, and that if I 
thrust in I might lose her the chance of a husband. But on 
hearing from my mother that the curate was engaged to be 
married to a young lady who lived at Manchester, who had 
been waiting for him already two years, and who, it seems, 
was willing to go on waiting for the hopeful young man for- 
ever, I made up my mind that Kate should have a jolly time 
of it during the few days she remained at the parsonage. I 
took her on the river along with a basket filled with cham- 
pagne and good things, got by sending Farmer Thompson's 
man in the gig over to a considerable town of shops and streets. 
Thus we spent one long day. I hired Thompson's gig and 
drove the girl about the country. She wanted to see the 
ocean, and we went by rail to a part of the coast that lay some 
twenty miles from Blathford. Here there would have been 
ocean enough to look at had the tide made ; unhappily the 
sea kept stubbornly low throughout our visit ; we saw no more 
than a gleam of blue beyond the miles of slimy mud. No 
marine prospect was ever so little like the ocean. I laughed 
at the efforts of the town in which we found ourselves to give 
itself a marine character, by boats which were seldom water 
borne, by a pier which was seldom water washed. The rocks 
looked artificial ; the boatmen sprawled with the airs of London 
cabmen disguised in fearnaught breeches. Yet Kate's dark 
eyes were eager and bright with pleasure as she gazed at the 
distant streak of blue salt water. 

" It is the horizon, at all events," she exclaimed, " and 
behind it are all the wonders you have told us about." 

" They are wonders until they are realized." 

" Nothing bears realization," she answered. " Heaven itself 
should disappoint if we are to judge by what we find out down 
here." She curled her lip, and her cheeks brightened with red 
as though to some sudden passion of suppressed thought. 
After a minute she brought her eyes away from the distant 
sea line, and asked me if I could give her any information 
about Australia. 

" What sort of information do you want ? " 

" Tell me the parts you have visited." 


> " Sydney and Melbourne." 

" What's to be done in those cities, Mr. Morgan ? " 

^' If you ask me what a man may do, I answer all that may 
become him ; if he dares do more there's plenty to be done. 
Labor that gets fifteen shillings a week here gets ten shillings 
a day there. One of our crew at Sydney went ashore over- 
night, and did not turn up in the morning. The skipper 
charged the absent seaman's wages with the ten shillings he 
paid to a laborer off the Circular Quay. If I was a very 
young man — which I am, by the way — and hated the sea, I'd 
perpetrate the most harmless of the crimes that are visited by 
transportation, and get a free passage to the Antipodes and a 
large start in life on a ticket of leave." 

" Would it not be as easy to emigrate ? " said she, with a 
smile which made way quickly for a grave, earnest look. 

" I know more about convicts than emigrants," said I. 
" The convict on his arrival is provided with lodgings, food, 
and occupation ; I can't say what becomes of the emigrant." 

" But many people of all sorts are every year emigrating to 
America and Australia." 

" Of a good many sorts." 

" I've heard of people who were as homeless in this country 
as those clouds are up in the sky there," said she, pointing 
upward, and following the direction of her finger with her dark 
eyes, " finding a home and friends in Australia and prosper- 
ing. Gentility is no restriction in the colonies — is it ? " 

" No restrictions are placed upon the little that's exported," 
I answered. 

" A gentleman, a lady may do in Australia what they would 
rather die than do here." 

" Perhaps so," said I. " The snob long ago saddled the 
British lion and still rides the beast, trampling on oppor- 

" What chances do the Australian colonies offer young 
women, Mr. Morgan ? " 

" Marriage." 

" I don't mean that." 

" Are you thinking of emigrating ? " 

*' I would rather be a scullery maid behind that blue line 
there," said she, looking at the narrow sweep of distant water, 
" than a governess in this country." 

I pitied the fine girl, but held my peace. 

"Where can one find out all about the Australian colonies ? " 
she asked. 

" I'll inquire, and whatever is published TH send you," 



She thanked me. 

" Have you any friends or relatives in Australia ? " 

« None." 

" None in England ? " 

" None in the world. When my father died I was alone." 
With a sudden smile she added, " I should not have said so 
much. I have friends in your father and mother. But they 
are not friends in the sense your question implied." 

*' Don't think of emigrating without taking all the advice 
you can get, and without giving the subject plenty of thought." 

She bit her lip and clasped her hands behind her, and 
slightly swayed her body as though advice vexed her. Then 
with another of her quick smiles she asked me if I could tell 
her how emigrants are treated at sea, what sort of ships they 
are dispatched in, the cost of the passage, a person's require- 
ments in respect of clothes and the like, how long the voyage 
occupied, how many of a company were put into one ship. 

I was able to answer some of these questions, and our con- 
versation on this subject ended only when we had entered a 
railway carriage and were in motion for Blathford. 

In some of our rambles, down to the day of her leaving us, 
she talked again about emigration and the opportunities a new 
country offered to poor and friendless people, but never after- 
ward was she so much in earnest as when we had stood 
together looking at the distant streak of sea. However, in 
fulfillment of my promise I wrote to a firm in London, who 
sent me a book and a letter full of information ; these reached 
me on the day of her leaving us, and she thanked me grate- 
fully and packed them in her box. 

I drove her to the station in old Thompson's gig;, and was 
sorry to part with her. She and I had been much together 
during her few days of holiday. I admired her, liked her 
manners and looks, and relished her talk, which often tasted to 
the palate of my mind like a sharp and yet a sweet and pleas- 
ant wine to one's lips. And then, again, I felt sorry for the 
poor girl who was going forth into a friendless life, out of the 
repose and gentle pleasures and simple affections of such a 
home as she had passed her little holiday in. 

Well, I bade her good-by and drove home, and I am bound 
to say that after she had been gone two or three days she 
went clean out of my head. Indeed, I had something else to 
think of. I held a mate's certificate, and not very much more 
than that spoke to was needed to qualify me for a captain ; 
yet the little involved some study, and to make sure of myself 
J went two or three times a week down to Bristol to read in 


navigation and do other nautical work with an old retired sea 
captain. At the end of two months from the date of my 
arrival home I presented myself and easily passed. This was 
in 1850. Certificates of competency were made compulsory in 
January, 185 1. 

But passing was not getting employment. For some con- 
siderable while nothing better than a second mate's post fell 
in my way. Not till the month of February, which brought 
me into the year 1851, was I successful in finding a situation, 
though I had looked about me in the London Docks as well 
as in Bristol. 



It fell out thus : I was on a visit in the last named city to 
my old friend the sea captain whom I had read with. He 
rented a comfortable small house near the docks. I had come 
from Blathford in the morning intending to make further 
inquiries after a ship, and had looked in on Captain Brad- 
ford for a yarn and a pipe, meaning to kill no more than an 
hour. He asked me to stop and take a cut of boiled beef 
with him and his niece. While I hesitated, questioning the 
wisdom of letting slip good time by eating boiled beef with 
the skipper till perhaps it should be two o'clock in the after- 
noon, we heard a knocking on the door, and Bradford's niece, 
looking in, said, " Uncle, can you see Captain Cadman ? " 

" Oh, yes," says Bradford. " Walk in, skipper ! " he called 
out, and Captain Cadman, who stood in the passage, stepped 
into the little parlor. 

He was a tall man with reddish hair and a reddish dye of 
skin that was yet not sunburn ; his eyes were small, his nose 
long and pointed, his beard trimmed so as to correspond with 
the run of his nose — that is, it stood out like a fan, the handle 
at you ; at the full his elongated physiognomy shaped itself 
into a very wedge of a face. In fact then he had the look of 
a goat, all the meaning of him in his eyes. His legs were 
extraordinarily long, his feet immense ; he wore square-toed 
shoes, and his knees were defined sharp as the joint of a pair 
of compasses through his thin cloth trousers. His body was 
wrapped up in a somewhat rusty monkey jacket. He threw a 
large black soft hat upon a couch, and shook hands with Cap- 
tain Bradford. 


I supposed he had looked in on some private matter and 
got up to go. 

•* Don't leave on my account, sir/* said he in a high-pitched, 
not strong, but rather greasy voice. " Bradford, I hope I 
don't disturb you ? " 

•* Sit down — there's no disturbance," replied the other. 

"I want your opinion. Here's Flaxman's account. I'm 
not going to let Mr. Fletcher be swindled. Now if this aint 
a swindle " 

He pulled a folded paper from his side pocket and opened 
it into a long sheet full of writing and figures. 

** Mark the total. One eighty-eight — thirteen — one. Where 
do the one come in ? In one penn'orth of rope yarn, is it ? " 
Here he laughed, and the noise was more like the slopping of 
a cook's bucket of slush drained over the side than any imag- 
inable explosion of human merriment. " Run an eye over the 
items," he continued. " What was the valley of a t'gallant 
jewel block in your time ? And h'ant fids jumped since you 
was born if Flaxman don't tell lies, which he's incapable of 
anything else ? I'd fit out a fifty-gun frigate for — I was 
a-going to say — almost half the money, and chuck in three suits 
of canvas for t'other half." 

" Let me read — let me read ! " grumbled Captain Bradford, 
putting on his spectacles. 

After a minute or two of silence, during which Captain Cad- 
man eyed me all over, finally settling his eyes upon my face 
with a critical, screwed-up, half-insinuating, half -interrogating 
expression in them, he said : 

" A sailor, sir ? " 

" Yes." 

" Pretty fresh ashore ? " 

" Since August." 

" A long spell ! " he exclaimed, looking me over again. 
" Took sick, perhaps ? " 

" Never had a day's illness since I landed." 

" 'Long to Bristol ? " 

" No." 

"What was your last ship, sir ? " 

" The Wandererr 

" D'ye mean old Back's bark ? " 

I nodded. 

" I'm in command of the little Hebe that belonged to old 
Back," said he. 

" I know the vessel well. Getting on in years, though, isn't 
she, captain ? " 



*' Oh ! " he exclaimed, with his mirthless, sloppy laugh, 
" don't ever mention the years of a ship or a woman. Neither 
gets old. Both can keep all on repairing, yer know." 

All this while old Bradford was diligently reading the 
rigger's account, his square white eyebrows knitted into a 
frown of deep interest over his magnified eyes. 

"You was away, I reckon," continued Captain Cadman, 
" when old Back gasped his last ? His vessels was put up 
and Mr. Fletcher bought the Hebe** 

" How much ? " 

" 'Twixt you and me and the pump, sir, for as much as she's 
worth. After she was docked — oh, my precious eyes ! " He 
raised his hands and groaned. •* That^** he continued, point- 
ing to the document in Bradford's hands, " is just a muskeety 
bite compared to the great snake sting of the whole boiling. 
New sheathing, new starnpost, new wheel, twenty foot of new 
keel amidships, new main topmast " 

" Cadman," here said Captain Bradford, putting the rigger's 
bill down upon the table. " D'ye know, I don't think this so 
very unreasonable. Why ! I see he's put in a complete set of 
lower fore shrouds," and here he named several items of ship's 

Captain Cadman slowly shook his head. 

" Knock off thirty per cent, and robbery's still the order of 
the day." 

A discussion followed. Captain Bradford selected a num- 
ber of items and justified them by copious extracts from his 
own experiences. Captain Cadman seemed to protest with 
heat. I say seemed. He applied many injurious words to 
the master rigger. But it struck me all the same that he was 
acting a part. I guessed that Bradford and Flaxman being 
friends, Cadman's' scheme was to get the captain to use his 
influence with the rigger to cheapen -the bill, himself being 
satisfied that the charges were just. After a while he put the 
bill in his pocket. Bradford took a decanter of spirits out of 
a cupboard and the three of us drank to one another. It was 
hard upon twelve o'clock in the morning, and I was still con- 
sidering whether or not to partake of my friend's boiled beef, 
due, as I understood, at one. 

" When d'ye sail, Cadman ? " said Bradford, filling a pipe 
and pushing the jar of tobacco across the table. 

" Tenth prox., all being well.' 

" Got a full cargo, I hope ? 

" Up to the knocker, as cargoes go. But things are not as 
they was in your time, Bradford." 


" I've been down to the wash-streak before now," said the 
old captain, with a slow smile. *' I've known what it is to 
crawl into the rigging half-mast high in a gale of wind to find 
out what's become of the ship." 

" All smother and yeast high as the sheer poles. I know — 
I know," exclaimed Cadman, whose voice seemed even more 
gurgling and greasy now that he was smoking. " Them was 
the good old times. Now they're always a-coming." 

" What's your port ? " said Bradford. 

" Table Bay. Mr. Fletcher goes with us." 

" To look after you ? " said Captain Bradford dryly. 

" For his health," answered Cadman. 

" He'll be missed till he comes safe home," said Captain 
Bradford with an ironical cast of face. " There'll be a little 
more nakedness and a little more hunger in Bristol till his light 
shines upon us once more. The psalm won't go up quite so 
strong on the Sabbath, and there'll be one yellow composed 
countenance, and one shining new black suit of clothes, and 
a tall hat the less on Sundays while that good man's missing." 

Cadman without moving his head turned his little eyes upon 

" Is the Hebe the only vessel Mr. Fletcher owns ? " I 

" The only vessel," answered Cadman. 

" If you weren't in command I'd ask Jem Fletcher to give 
the charge to my young friend here," said Captain Bradford. 
" He wants a post, and's too good a sailor to be kept ashore 
loafing for lack of a job." 

Again without turning his head, Captain Cadman brought 
his little eyes to bear on me. 

" The brig wants a mate — she's got a capt'n," said he. 

" D'ye offer him the berth, Cadman ? If so, bloomed, 
Morgan, if I wouldn't close if I was you," called out old 

** I'm in want of a mate, certainly," said Captain Cadman, 
letting his words drop slowly, while he held his pipe to his 
mouth, and now turning upon me the full of his snout-shaped 
face that he might eye me all over very critically and deliber- 
ately. " But that's one of them needs you're able to supply 
without call to go upon your knees and beg and pray." 

" Take the offer, Morgan," said Captain Bradford. « The 
voyage is short and agreeable, pay good, table excellent, and 
if Fletcher goes along, then I'll warrant the whole job free 
from vulgarity, as the music halls say when they're planning 
something extra coarse." 


" There's been no oflFer as yet," I answered, laughing. 

All this while Cadman eyed me. I seemed to see his mind 
in motion behind the fixed and contrived expression of his 
face, like the legs of actors under the curtain that's not quite 
down. I could swear his considerations about me went fur- 
ther than my mere professional eligibility. 

" How old are you ? " he asked. 

" Three-and-twenty." 

" What's your qualifications ? " 

" He holds a master's certificate," broke in Bradford, " and 
is six months home from over three years of washing about 
in the Wanderer. What more would you have, Cadman, if it 
isn't a whale ? " 

But Cadman was wary, persistent, and critical in his inqui* 
ries. He asked who my parents were, where I was born, if I 
Swore and drank hard, and so forth. I resented nothing. In 
fact, I had made up my mind if the berth was offered to accept 
it, and I hoped it would come while I sat, for then I should 
return to Blathford in an easier temper than I had enjoyed 
for some weeks past. But the offer was not to be made on 
the spot. 

" Well," said Captain Cadman, pocketing his pipe, " I'll talk 
the matter over with Mr. Fletcher, and you shall hear from me. 
What's your address ? " , 

I scribbled it on a piece of paper. 

" How runs the yarn in the shape of pay ? ^ said Bradford. 

" Four pun' fifteen," answered Camden shortly. 

" It's the old story," said Bradford. " Wages go down 
while everything else goes up. Everything else going up 
means money for them who sell. Why, then, should wages be 
alwavs a-lowering and a-lowering ? " 

" Ah, that's it ! " said Captain Cadman. " That's one of 
them riddles that Mr. Fletcher's given to trying his hand at." 

We were interrupted by a servant girl looking in to ask if 
she might lay the cloth for dinner. Cadman accepted an invi- 
tation to partake of some boiled beef. Presently a fine smok- 
ing silver-side was placed upon the table ; Bradford's niece 
carved, and we ate and drank. In the course of the meal 
Captain Bradford proposed that after dinner we should go down 
to the docks and have a look at the Hebe. Captain Cadman 
was quite agreeable, and shortly after two we put on our hats 
and the three of us sallied forth. 

Though I had followed the sea for years, I loved the life, and 
by the life I don't mean the discipline and the wet and the 
bad food and the poor pay, but the freedom of the great breast 


of ocean, the remarkable beauty of a ship in full saiJ, and all 
the rich poetry that in the boundless solitudes of the deep you 
read in the book of the heavens radiant with stars, or glorious 
with the newly risen sun, or terrible with swollen black thunder- 
clouds torn with fire. 

But one condition of the life I ever abhorred, and that is the 
dock part of it. You see the business of the deep in its rough 
and clamorous making. Everything belonging to the sea life 
that's coarse and commonplace, nasty and noisy, is there. 
Ships are wrecked by the riggers, decks are fouled with stains 
of cargo, drunken sailors in skin caps and mossy breasts sprawl 
about the quay-side, quarrelsome and obscene, and the hollow 
holds of the wooden and iron fabrics re-echo the blasphemies 
of ruffianly lumpers. Nor do mates and captains look the 
same in dock as they do at sea ; a something in their dress, 
a peculiarity in their strut, makes the difference that is quickly 
distinguished by the practiced eye ; the brown of their com- 
plexion is faded, they seem somehow at a loss, and though you 
see a captain go over the side into the cabin of his ship in dock, 
he does not, somehow, bear himself as her master. He is not 
as he will be anon when the canvas is spread over his head 
and the soft milky foam is buzzing alongside. The life of the 
sea does not begin until the docks are well astern. 

The Bristol docks are curiosities as marine receptacles 
because of the topgallant and royal yards and pulling bunting 
they lift above the house tops of the city. You watch a man 
furling a sail past a church spire, and a topgallant mast slowly 
descends (to the melody of a sea language happily silent in 
the distance) seemingly close beside a chimney stack. 

It was a clear, bright, cold February day. A noise of 
some local celebration was in the air ; the chimes of many 
bells slanted through and quarreled down the frosty wind and 
I heard the sulky throbbing of a big drum and the strains of a 
brass band. The docks were full of vessels ; the picture was 
such an one of large and busy trade as you shall not see in 
Bristol to-day. We stood on the edge of the wall and looked 
at the Hebe before stepping aboard. 

She was a brig of about 290 tons, an old-fashioned ship 
built probably about thirty years before this time. That 
a sailor would guess by her beam and butter-box run, her 
immensely square stern, apple-shaped bows, and cutwater 
curving at the stem head into the nude bust and face of 
a woman — a device of the old sort : painted staring eyes, 
red hair, cheeks rouged into strict correspondence with 
forecastle taste in such matters. This Hebe was no beauty. 


Her immensely thick bulwarks were almost the height of a 
man, she had large heavy tops which somehow gave her an 
over-sparred appearance. Her decks ran flush or level from 
the eyes to the taffrail. 

" A good, old-fashioned, roomy hold down there for rats/' 
said Bradford, with a sarcastic laugh. 

'* She was built in your time, skipper," exclaimed Cadman 
in a stealthy voice, turning his queer little eyes upon me. 

" Yes, and so was the Thames" retorted Bradford, naming 
one of the handsomest of John Company's ships. 

We went aboard, and Cadman conducted us into the cabin — 
stateroom we then called it. I stared about me ; every sailor 
looks with interest at a ship, at the outside and at the inside 
of her. The cabin was a dusky interior, spite of the large, 
almost flat, skylight overhead. It contained seven sleeping 
berths, three little ones of a side, and one big one athwart 
under the wheel. In her day the Hebe had been a West Indian 
passenger as well as cargo boat ; had carried several big pots 
to and fro ; had even risen to the dignity of a favorite trader. 

'' If these dry planks could talk," said Bradford, standing 
on wide legs in the middle of the cabin, and turning his jolly, 
mottled, broad-beamed face about with his hands thrust deep 
in his capacious breeches pockets, ^< there's nothing afloat 
fastened with bolts and trunnels that could spin more hair- 
lifting yarns. Morgan, this same craft was once boarded by 
pirates within thirty miles of Morant Point. They cut the 
throats of the master and mates and three men passengers ; 
flung the crew along with two delicate ladies, people of wealth 
and position out in Jamaica, into the hold ; clapped the hatch 
on and battened it down ; next they set Are to the galley and 
went away, leaving smoke enough to persuade 'em the vessel 
was in flames. The fire went out of itself, but the hatch cover 
sat tight 'twixt its coamings. The brig was fallen in with 
ten days later, and when the people who boarded her lifted 
the hatch they found eighteen dead bodies in ev^ry posture of 
death agony. Lord, the blue, fast-mortifying faces, with the 
torments of the thirst which had killed them — the thirst and 
the heat and the suffocation in that hold — still showing like a 
living expression in the poor Christian carrion ! Bruised if 
I'd like to sail with you, Cadman." 

We left the brig, and in walking in the direction of Captain 
Bradford's house we met a stout, tall man whom Bradford 
shook his hand at, calling, *' How d'ye do, Fletcher? We 
are fresh from the Hebe. You've made a good job of her, 


Cadman left us to speak to him, and Bradford and I waited. 

" Turn yourself that Fletcher may take a good view of you," 
said Bradford. " They're talking about you." 

From the old skipper's ridicule of Fletcher I had expected 
to see a different sort of person — something long and yellow, 
well-soaped looks, and a suit of rusty black. Fletcher was a 
tall, big man, with a pair of strong whiskers, a small pear- 
shaped nose, and a huge chin betwixt two points of stick-up 
collar. He wore a low pot hat, and was dressed in a suit 
of gray. He talked with Cadman, and they both looked 
toward me. 

" I had thought to see something of the devil dodger's cut 
in your friend there," said I to Bradford. 

" He sings loud in church," he answered ; " has a name for 
charity, but you'd need a policeman's bull's-eye, I think, to 
explore for his gifts. He has failed twice — once in Sheffield, 
and once here — ^yet manages to hold his own, to maintain a 
wife and family, to say no more, and to keep a good roof over 
his head. He has a well-furnished house, and brags of his 
pictures. He is now a ship owner. Think on't ! " 

" Captain, you know the people. Shall 1 close if they offer 
me the appointment ? " 

" Why, the wages would degrade a footman, and there are 
sweeter ships afloat. But then, Morgan, you want a berth. 
You may find a command ready for you on your return. A 
Cape voyage won't run you into six months. And while 
you're at sea you're keeping your hand in — remember that. 
What can a sailor do ashore but spend his savings and smoke 
tobacco ? " 

Here Fletcher and Cadman parted ; the former gravely 
flourished a farewell to Bradford, and the other joined us. 
He said nothing, however, about engaging me. I just took 
notice as we walked that twice or thrice he turned his face to 
stare very critically, as though he would look far deeper than 
the mere professional skin of me went. I guessed this sort of 
inspection was a mere trick or habit of his, and thought noth- 
ing of it ; indeed he sent the like searching glances at the old 
skipper Bradford, it seemed to me. He quitted us at some 
short distance from the docks, first feeling in his pockets to 
make sure that he had my address, and then repeating that I 
should hear from him. 

I thanked old Bradford for his hospitality and for the intro- 
duction, and declining his invitation to step in and drink a 
glass, I made my way to the station and so got home. 




I TOLD my people of what I had been about and the chance 
I stood of getting a berth as mate of a brig called the Hebe^ 
bound to Cape Town. My father said I should do well to 
accept the offer if it came. He had noticed that I was grow- 
ing restless. 

"Blathford is a dull place for a young man," said he. 
"Your delight in the country has passed. You are again 
longing to feel the fabric of a ship under you, and to hear the 
song of the salt wind." 

" There is surely no hurry," said my mother. " And though 
Blathford is dull, it is safe, and you have been happy at home, 
Charles. Stop till you get command of a fine ship. When- 
ever there is a wreck it is a little brig." 

" Charles will be wise to take what he can get," said my 
father softly, with one of his sweet looks. " You would have 
him a bishop, even while he waits for a curacy. And remem- 
ber the words of the old divine : ^ Is it not labor that makes 
the garlic and the pulse, the sycamore and the cresses, the 
cheese of the goats and the butter of the sheep to be savory 
and pleasant as the flesh of the roebuck or the milk of the 
kine, the marrow of oxen or the thighs of birds ? ' " 

" Is that a letter for me ? " said I, going to the mantelpiece. 

"It is from Kate and to me. You may read it," said my 

The girl wrote that she had taken another situation, where 
she hoped to be happier, though she would be getting a little 
less money. She said she was weary of teaching. 

" It is bitter hard that girls placed as I am should find in 
this country nothing to do outside educating children. I 
am sorry now that I wanted the courage to plunge boldly into 
domestic service. I would far rather be a housemaid than a 
governess or a shop girl. The only condition of that life 
which makes me shrink a bit when I think of it is the people 
one must associate with. How could I bear to listen to John 
the footman's talk of the places he's lived in, to hear Mary the 
cook reading aloud without an aspirate from some vulgar 
weekly newspaper or some vulgarer magazine of love stories ?" 
She asked if I had found a ship yet, and, if so, when I sailed. 
There was no reference in her letter to her old scheme of 


About a week after I had visited Bristol I heard from Mr. 
James Fletcher. He appointed me to the post of chief mate 
of the HebCy at four pounds fifteen a month. My services 
would not be required until the day before the brig sailed. 
He had chosen me out of a number, as much because I was a 
clergyman's son as because of my qualifications (according to 
Captain Bradford) as a seaman and a navigator. He had a 
high opinion of ministers of all denominations, and peculiarly 
respected the clergy of the Church of England. He con- 
cluded that, as a clergyman's son, pious sentiments had been 
early instilled into me, and he took it for granted that I was 
a sober, moral, God-fearing young man. It was his intention, 
he said, to go out in the brig for his health, and he hoped I 
would spare no trouble to help him and Captain Cadman to 
excite religious sentiments in the minds of the crew and set 
them a good example in all respects. 

I found this on the breakfast table and handed it to my 
father, who said : 

*' He seems an honest, respectable gentleman. I like his 
sentiments. Well would it be if all ship owners took his 
views. The degrading and senseless vice of swearing would 
end, the name of Jack would no longer be the short for 
debauchery, the tender side of the sailor's nature would 
appear, his character then would make the profession of the 
sea truly noble." 

'' And how pleased English consuls would be ! " exclaimed 
my mother, one of whose cousins had been consul at a Spanish 

^ I pocketed the letter, and went out of doors to think over 
it. I gave no heed to Fletcher's references to my parentage, 
my morals, and so forth. Suppose the man's piety a sham, 
there is a no more ancient fraud in the world, and I will say 
this : that if life has never been the better it has never been 
the worse for it, for surely you would rather have a man be a 
humbug in the right, than a candid rogue in the wrong. A 
man who feigns a religious character must act his part and 
therefore can't help doing a little good, though against the 
grain. A pious humbug leers at you as he passes on his way 
to old Nick, gives you a bow — if you are poor, perhaps a 
penny — all to help him on the road to the devil ; but your 
ingenuous villain who is too honest a blackguard to put on a 
religious face knocks you down and walks on his path to hell 
over your body. In fact there is too much imposture every- 
where to quarrel with the professors of one sort of it. 

No ; it was not the fellow's writing about my helping him 


to make his crew virtuous and so on that struck me : it was his 
not wanting me on board until the day before the brig sailed. 
I very well knew what was expected of a chief mate. My 
experience was that when a ship was in dock the mate was 
more in command of her than the captain himself. He was 
everywhere. Work came to a stand unless he was by to refer 
to. He saw to the stowing of the cargo, standing at the main 
hatch and watching the business as it went forward ; he looked 
after things in fifty different directions. Yet here was I 
requested not to join the vessel I was mate of till the eve of 
the day of her hauling out. It was strange ; it was something 
new in ocean procedure ; but then so much the better, thought 
I, after reading the letter a second time ; three weeks of the 
quiet parsonage of Biathford with the dear old folks for my 
company, all night in, and plenty of milk and butter, and 
tender roast beef and mutton, delicacies which twinkle and 
vanish in the tail of your wake as it blends with the shore 
when the curved hawser is hissing to the drag of the tugboat, 
must surely be sweeter than a like period spent in a dock, 
looking after the filling up of a brig's hold, yelling to bungling 
figures on the decks, shouting to dangling shapes aloft, and all 
for four pounds fifteen a month. 

I wrote to Mr. Fletcher and accepted the berth, and asked 
him to tell me when I was to sign articles. I received no 
reply for a fortnight. Then came a letter telling me that he 
had been away at Sheffield on a visit to a manufacturer who 
was sending out a valuable freight by the Hebe to Cape Town, 
and in a postscript which read like an afterthought he 
added : '' Call upon the shipping master on your arrival S'n 
the 9th, and then sign the articles." 

The 9th came. I had been a long while at home this time, 
and found good-by hard to say. I hired the carter that had 
brought me from the railway station in the preceding August, 
put my stowed sea chest aboard the old vehicle, and with my 
mother's kiss still moist upon my cheek, and my father's grasp 
still warm in my hand, I turned my back upon the old home, 
little anticipating the new and extraordinary scene of life that 
was to open to me. 

On my arrival at Bristol, after signing the brig's articles, 
I took my chest on board the Hebe, I found the vessel in full 
sea rig, the hatches on, and all in readiness for the start. She 
sat fairly deep in the water of the dock, and showed like 
a ship comfortably freighted. The only people in the vessel 
were the steward and the carpenter. I noticed the latter as 
I went through the gangway, leaning over the windlass and 


smoking a pipe, and posturing with the easy air of a ship- 
keeper. He did not know who I was and made no sign. 
I called to hear if there was anybody in the forecastle who 
would help me carry my chest below. On this he stepped aft, 
putting his pipe in his pocket, and made a civil flourish with 
his hand to his cloth cap. 

" Are you the mate, sir ? " said he. 

" Yes," I answered. 

'< I'm the carpenter and acting second mate,'* said he, with 
a grin. Then going to the companion he bawled out, 
" George ! " A young fellow of some three-and-twenty came 
up. His face was dirty, his jacket old and greasy, his canvas 
trousers colored here and there like the center of a drum 
where the sticks hit it. He had a cast in his eye, and seemed 
but a poor kind of creature for any sort of work. I asked 
him who he was. He answered with an imbecile look : 

" George, the steward, sir." 

I said, " You'll have to freshen yourself up, my lad. Those 
togs of yours will need a long tow overboard to satisfy me. 
Is the captain aboard t " 

" No, sir." 

" When is he expected ? " 

" Dunno, sir." 

The carpenter waited till I had done with my questions, 
then said, " Here, boy ; len's a hand to carry the chief mate's 
chest to his berth." 

I followed them down the steps, and they put my old box on 
the deck of my cabin. In the bunk lay a bundle of bedding, 
sent aboard that morning according to my instructions to 
a Bristol outfitter. I glanced around and found that other 
necessaries had been duly delivered. 

" I see you're all ready for hauling out," said I to the 
carpenter, who seemed to linger as though for a yarn, the 
steward meanwhile stepping into his pantry, which was imme- 
diately abreast my cabin. 

" Yes, sir," he answered. " Everything's been done by the 
riggers. Ne'er a man as sails in the ship '11 have a finger in 
the pie, aloft or alow. 'Taint as it used to be. If I were 
master it's my sailors as should reeve and bend, aye, and 
stow too. There's nothen like knowing what you're aboard 
of when the whole job means sink or swim " 

" Have they got a crew ? " 

*** Yes ; a tidy crew as crews go. I was up signing along 
with some of them." 

" What's the complement ? " 


** Not counting you aft, eight men and me, and that there 
George," he answered, with a nod at the pantry. 

I chatted a while with the fellow, rather fancying him. He 
was a man of about five-and-forty, with iron-gray whiskers, 
of a frank, sailorly manner, and honest looks. The mate of 
such a brig as this could lose nothing of dignity in yarning 
with her carpenter. There is no dignity in 290 tons. Indeed 
it scarcely begins at a thousand. This carpenter had sailed 
with a man I well knew ; he also named several large ships he 
had served in, and he looked around the cabin as though he 
felt that his present situation was a come-down. 

When he left me I occupied myself in arranging my berth, 
and then went on deck for a meal at an eating house just off 
the docks. As I passed through the companion hatch Captain 
Cadman came over the side. On seeing me he called out, 
" Ho, there you are ! " 

I saluted him with a quarter-deck flourish, of which, how- 
ever, he took no notice, being no doubt ignorant of all such 
etiquette. His wide, flapping soft hat seemed to contract his 
face, and I found it more snout-like than I had before thought 
it. He was buttoned up in a rusty monkey jacket, and his 
long legs were outlined like a skeleton's through his thin, 
flapping cloth breeches. 

" All ready for sea, sir ? " said he. 

" Yes, sir," said I. 

" So are we," he exclaimed, casting his little eyes aloft, then 
running them over the decks. " Our trim's good. We sit 
well, I think. We haul out to-morrow at nine. Nine's the 
hour, sir. You'll sleep aboard." 

I answered with the customary " Aye, aye, sir." 

" I'm a-dining this afternoon with Mr. Fletcher. We may 
come aboard to-night." 

He went to the skylight, called to George to tell him if Mr 
Fletcher's cabin was ready, then giving him certain instruc- 
tions which I did not catch, he walked about the deck, looking 
here and there, getting on to the rail on either side to peer 
over, and staring aloft. I watched him with a certain degree 
of interest. I never remember a person more singular in his 
carriage, manners, and looks. His walk was a wild, flighty 
stride ; he seemed to have no control over his great, square- 
toed feet, and he had an odd way of gazing askant at a thing. 
He'd hold his head straight, and you'd think he was looking 
in front of him, till on glancing at him you'd And his eyes in 
the corner of their sockets, fastened upon you. He attentively 
viewed the brig as though particularly to observe her trim ; 


then, after addressing a few observations to me about Captain 
Bradford^ the promise of the morrow's weather, the sailors who 
had signed for the vessel, and so on, he stepped on to the 
wharf and went away. I waited until he had disappeared, 
walked to an eating house, and dined. 

I hung about the brig for the rest of the day, smoking and 
sometimes yarning with the carpenter, who said he belonged 
to London and had no friends in Bristol, and did not care to 
go ashore. Ships of many kinds lay round about us, and the 
scene in its way was hearty and inspiriting, with the spires of 
masts, the lacework of rigging, the hovering of the bunting of 
divers nations at peak or royal masthead, and the song of the 
capstan and the cry of command mingled with the melodies of 
church bells and the noises of the city spreading beyond in 
all directions. But it was a sharp, cold day, spite of a high 
sky of marble and a sunset of spacious splendor ; after I had 
made a good supper or tea ashore I was glad of the refuge 
the brig's cabin provided. George lighted the lamp; I smoked 
a pipe, mixed myself a glass out of a bottle of spirits I had 
brought with me, and killed an hour or two by reading in some 
old thumb-marked volume of sea tales which I found on a 
swing tray under the skylight. 

I contrasted this gloomy cabin with the home I had left — 
the cheerful parlor lighted by the soft flame of oil, the pic- 
tures, the communion plate glittering on the sideboard, the 
figures of my father and mother, the one knitting, the other 
reading — and I did not feel joyous. 

I thought of the horrible yarn old Bradford had spun us of 
the people whose throats had been cut and of the heap of 
dead bodies in the hold. The gloom upon my spirits was in 
the atmosphere ; imagination beheld the theater exactly as it 
had been, and the bloody business was re-enacted with such 
sharpness of realization as once caused me to glance around a 
bit nervously, and once even to go on deck to fetch a cold 
breath and get some briskness of mood out of the life that 
was in sight. 

But there was little to be seen ; the water in the dock 
floated like black oil, with a gleam coming you knew not 
whence in the heart of it ; the moon was dark, the stars pale 
and few, the ships lay in blocks of shadow spotted here and 
there with yellow light, and the crowd of masts swarmed into 
the obscurity till they looked like the gathering of a thunder- 
cloud with ink-like lines of rain falling. The silence was the 
silence of the dock when Jack in his multitude is ashore ; 
when one solitary figure leaning over a taffrail talks to another 


solitary figure leaning over a bow ; when a distant shout star- 
ties, and the splash of a bucket makes you hearken for the 
alarm of a drowning man ; when there is a hum of drunken 
voices beside the shadowy arm of a crane, and a dim chorus- 
ing from a distant public house. 

Mr. Fletcher and Captain Cadman came on board at ten. 
I sat in the cabin scarcely knowing whether to expect them or 
not. Fletcher stumbled in coming down the companion steps, 
and put on a stately air when he approached me. His eyes 
were weak, and he was at some trouble to keep his face steady. 
He was slightly intoxicated, Cadman, on the other hand, was 
perfectly sober. Fletcher shook me by the hand, and said he 
hoped I would fulfill the expectations he had formed of me as 
the son of a clergyman. 

" You shall have of my best, sir — I can say no more," I 

" I expect no more," he exclaimed, with a rather tipsy 
flourish of his hand. '* He giveth all who giveth of his best. 
-Is the steward awake ? " 

I called to George, who came out of his pantry rubbing his 

" Is there any milk on board 1 " said Mr. Fletcher. 

" No, sir," answered George. 

<< D'ye want a drink of milk, sir ? " said Captain Cadman. 
"Jump ashore with a jug, George " 

" No, I'll drink no milk," said Mr. Fletcher, sitting down 
suddenly ; " milk lies cold upon the stomach throughout a long 
night. I mean cow's milk. I'd drink goat's milk if I could 
get it." 

Cadman slopped out one of his greasy laughs. " I knew a 
woman," said he, " who brought up her young un on goat's 
milk, and bloomed if the kid wouldn't turn to arterward and 
butt at his mother as if he was a goat. He wanted nothen but 
horns. He had all the feelings and sperrits of a Billy." 

" What's there to drink in this brig ? " said Fletcher, looking 
at me somewhat gloomily. 

In silence Cadman sped with spasmodic gestures and dart, 
ing legs to his cabin, and swiftly returned with a black bottle. 
George then put cold water and glasses upon the table. I 
was for going to my berth, guessing I was no longer wanted. 
Fletcher, however, first asking Cadman what the bottle con- 
tained, requested me to sit and drink prosperity to the Hebe. 
A mate must be always willing to oblige a ship owner. I mixed 
a glass of weak gin and water, and the three of us lifted our 
tumblers after Fletcher had said, " Here's prosperity to the 


voyage. May it find us grateful always for every mercy. 
And here's to our safe return to the country of our birth." 

" I was sorry to see Mrs. Fletcher take on so," said Captain 
Cadman, pulling out a paper bag of cigars, one of which he 
lighted (it instantly raised so vile a smell of bad tobacco that 
it was like sitting in a ship's hold which you smoke out for 
rats and other vermin). " But she'll come round. Somehow 
it's never long afore the empty chair gets to look as homely 
as when it's filled. I found that out arter my wife died. 
When I came home and found her armchair empty the sight 
of it was enough to drive me into drinking. Now its empti- 
ness is as formiliar as it would be if it were t'other ways about, 
that's to say, if I hadn't sold it." 

" Mrs. Fletcher is a bad sailor," said Fletcher, with his eyes 
half closed. " She'll miss me. We'll miss each other. She'll 
miss me from my accustomed seat at church, and at our plain, 
but, I think, not inhospitable table." 

•*Fur from that, sir," said Cadman, draining his glass. 

" My daughters '11 miss me," continued Fletcher. " But 
these separations are useful. They teach us to think. They 
withdraw us from that fool's paradise in which too many of 
us are apt to dwell." Here he lifted his eyelids and rested 
his dim eyes upon my face. '* The great and final change 
when we enter eternity and never return is always at hand. 
Our small earthly comings and goings prepare us for the last 
dread leave-taking." 

" I've always said," exclaimed Captain Cadman, " that there's 
ne'er a man as can dress up his thoughts in prettier colors than 
Mr. Fletcher of Bristol." 

" With your leave, gentlemen," said I, " I'll turn in. Work 
starts early in the morning, and there's along day before us." 

'* Good-night, sir," said Mr. Fletcher, extending his hand 
with the abruptness of drink. As I rose he said, " I hope you 
left your father in a fairly good state of health ?" 

" He is very well, sir, I thank you." 

" There's no class of society," I heard him say to Captain 
Cadman as I went to my berth, ••for which I have a greater 
regard than the clergy of the Church of England." 

I shut my door, but through the bulkhead heard him ram- 
bling on in this speech about the clergy. 

I got into my bunk and lay thinking. This first day of my 
entering my duties did not much seem like going to sea accord- 
ing to one's old notions of the life, whether in dock or out of 
soundings. I seemed to be treated more as passenger than 
mate ; Cadman had said nothing to me about the cargo, stores, 


and so on, had barely referred, indeed, to the brig when we met 
in the afternoon ; here too was the owner, Fletcher, shaking 
hands and making much of me — but, to be sure, he was rather 
tipsy. I was puzzled, but not uneasy. I knew my work, and 
though Cadman might be a smarter seaman than I in han- 
dlijig such a little ship as this brig, I had small doubt of prov* 
ing out and away superior as a navigator to so illiterate a 
man. They sat talking in low voices long after I had turned 
in. I heard a church clock strike eleven and then the quar« 
ter, and they talked still. 



The crew were aboard next morning by eight. They 
arrived perfectly sober, handed down their bags and Chests, 
and disappeared through the scuttle. I was satisfied with 
their looks. They showed as a healthy, able-bodied company 
of men, and I liked their quiet, orderly manner of coming 

Shortly after nine we had warped out of the dock ; a tug 
then got hold of us, and with a pilot in charge the little, 
square-sterned, ungainly bulk of brig hissed her thick cut- 
water through the froth of the wake churned up by the pad- 
dles ahead. My hands were now full ; I had fifty things to 
look after, and found no leisure to admire the quiet beauty of 
the scene of river through which we were towed. It was a 
hard, bright morning, with a keen and nipping breeze out of 
the northeast. Nothing happened worth noticing until the 
tug cast us adrift and the pilot left us. Mr. Fletcher, in a 
great overcoat and a fur cap, stumped the quarter-deck, casting 
complacent, patronizing looks round upon the sea. Cadman, 
who had now charge of the brig, was bawling out orders to 
make sail. I was forward on the forecastle, seeing to the 
ground tackle, along with the carpenter and one or two men. 
The wind, though a breeze, blew light, being almost aft ; the 
vessel was under topsails and fore course, and they were now 
setting topgallant sails and loosing the royals. 

I paused for a moment or two in what I was about, and 
could not but smile at the picture of the little brig. She 
looked from the head the oddest, most old-fashioned, 
unshapely structure that ever blew along over salt water. 
Her canvas fitted her ill ; the clews of her topgallant sails, as 


the hoisting yard tautened the leech, sheeted wide of the 
yardarms, and I could swear that the fore topsail had never 
been cut for the little ship. The standing jib and the top- 
gallant staysail had a meager look, as though the cloths had 
been stitched for a vessel wanting a third of the Hebe^s tonnage. 
Some of the canvas was dark with time, if not wear, and here 
and there I twigged a patch. I nearly burst into a laugh. 
The effect was as that of a tall boy in old clothes much too 
tight and short. A very Smike of a brig, thought I, though 
perhaps this image of ribs and shanks was impaired by the 
corpulence of the hull which lifted its rags to the wind. 

The carpenter looked at the brig out of the corners of his 
eyes, and the Jacks who were working under my direction 
frequently turned their heads to fling a glance aloft, as though 
fascinated by the monstrous exhibition of sailcloth. A light 
swell, with something, however, of the weight of the Bristol 
Channel in its heave, was rolling through the pale blue water 
scarcely more than wrinkled by the wind, and the brig bowed 
oddly upon it in a sort of squelching way, sousing her bows, 
and recovering sluggishly. I felt this queer behavior under 
foot, and could not reconcile it with the excellence of her 
trim while she had floated down the river or sat on the still 
water of the dock. 

" Blast me," says one of the sailors standing upon the heel 
of the cathead, after first spitting a thimbleful of yellow froth 
over the side, ** if I don't think this blooming old hooker's 
half full of water." 

" If she's going to cut these watter-logged capers here," ex- 
claimed another sailor, " what's to be her tantrums in anything 
of a sea ? " 

" Silence there," said I. 

But now the carpenter, coming to my side in a single stride, 
whispered hoarsely in my ear, " Mr. Morgan " — I had given 
him my name — " Mr. Morgan," said he, ** I believe the men 
are right. This here movement means three or four foot of 
water in the hold." 

Hearing this,I gave some moments of earnest heed to the mat- 
ter, and was satisfied by the feel of the heave that it was as the 
carpenter had said. The movement made you think of a quantity 
of loose quicksilver in the brig's bottom, which, running for- 
ward, held the bow sullenly soused till the obstinate lift of the 
swell sluggishly rose her head, when her hinder part sank in a 
sousing manner likewise, and then the recovery would be sul- 
len and slow, quite, in short, in the water-logged way. 

I wondered that Cadman did not remark the sickly motions 


of the brig. He was still full of business, leaving the carpen- 
ter and ine to get on with our work on the forecastle. It was 
not for me to order the carpenter to sound the well while the 
captain was on deck, but it was for me beyond question to go 
aft and report my suspicions that the Hebe was sinking under 
our feet. I went along the deck and stepped up to Cadman. 
Mr. Fletcher, who was pacing the planks near at hand, stopped 
to hear what I had to say. His whiskers looked uncommonly 
bushy and as strong as hedges. 

'' Shall the carpenter sound the well, sir ? He thinks there's 
three or four feet of water in the hold." 

" And so there is," said Cadman coolly. 

Fletcher still lingered, and seemed to view with approval 
a handsome three-masted schooner that was floating past us 
at a distance of a mile, brightening the water under her with 
the glistening shadow of her snow-white cloths. I stared at 
Cadman in silence. 

** Yes, there's two or three feet of water in the hold," said 
the captain. ** You can tell the men it was run in for sweeten- 
ing and preserving purposes. Some fathoms of old skin was 
took out when the brig was overhauled, and the shipwright as 
did the repairs recommended that we should season the new 
stuff by letting a quantity of water lie in the vessel's bottom. 
We know what we're about. It's all right. Tell the crew if 
there's anything tighter afloat than the Hebe^ middle-aged as 
she be, Mr. Fletcher of Bristol shall hand 'em over my earn- 
ings for the voyage." 

I looked at Fletcher, who smiled and resumed his walk. 

"We'll pump her out arter dinner," continued Cadman. 
" There's no call to sound the well. There's nothen draining 
in. My life's as good as yourn or any other man's aboard this 
vessel. So if the crew should say anything make their minds 
easy, will 'ee ? " 

I went forward again greatly puzzled, with a feeling of dis- 
trust slowly forming and hardening in me. The carpenter, 
while I was gone aft, had stood looking our way as though 
expecting a summons to drop the rod into the well. 

** The captain," said I, " tells me it's all right. He knows 
that there are three or four feet of water in the hold. The 
water was run in for seasoning purposes." 

" For what purposes ? " echoed the carpenter. 

" For seasoning the new skin." 

He viewed me without speech, then very moodily shook his 

" That warn't do," said he. " Water for seasoning ! in a 


Stowed hold too with plenty of muck, I dessay, in the ballast 
to wash up, not to speak of the dunnage floating on top of 
the cargo ! No, no. There's no blooming marines at this 
end of the ship to swallow the likes of such stuff as fAat/ " 

" Look here ! " cried one of the seamen, springing off the 
rail — a wiry, hairy, square-shouldered man, with the looks of a 
collie dog about the face, and a big clasp knife dangling at a 
lanyard round his neck. "Not another stroke of work till I 
larn what the water's a-doing in the hold, and if more's com- 
ing in. Have I shipped as a rat ? Strike me silly then ! " 

By this time the men were down from aloft. Sail had been 
made and the crew were clearing up the decks. It was a quiet 
day, and the man's loud speech was overheard. He had made 
it particularly significant too by his gesture. 

" What's up, Bill ? " called a sailor from abreast of the 

" What's the shindy now ? " sung out another. 

** Here's this old hooker half full of water, and Bristol 
scarcely out of sight," cried out Bill, intending his words for 

When this was said every man dropped the job he was 
upon, and came running oh to the forecastle, where in a trice I 
found myself in the center of all hands saving the fellow at 
the helm. 

** What's this about the brig half full of water ? " said a man, 
shoving three or four fellows aside to thrust close to me. 

I repeated in a clear voice what the captain had said. 

" Four foot of water ! " shouted a man, with a great oath. 
" Aint it time to see what boats the old basket carries ? " 

" Fired," cried another, " if she don't feel to be a-settling 
every time she lurches forrard ! Feel her, bullies." 

" Chips, sound the well ! " shouted a third man. " Aint 
j^(mr life of no account that you stand there a-blinkin' and a- 
chewing like any blooming old cow ? " 

" Forecastle ! " cried Cadman, with the note of a shriek in 
his voice, " what's the crew a-doing lumped up together 
there ? " 

I went aft and was followed by all the men. The language 
in my wake was far from choice. Some swore they felt the 
brig settling ; others that they'd give the captain two minutes 
to explain, then head the old fagot for Bristol docks; 
Fletcher stood large, whiskered, stout in his immense coat, 
near the wheel, at a safe distance, but within easy earshot. 

" Didn't I tell 'ee what to explain to the men about the 
water in the hold ? " said Cadman, setting his comoass-like 


legs apart and averting his snout-suggesting face to survey 
me and the men out of the corners of his eyes. 

" Yes," said I, " and your explanation has been given 'em." 

" But it won't smoke ! " exclaimed the wiry, hairy seaman 
with the clasp knife round his neck. '' D'ye think us men 
first voyagers that yer spin these blushen yarns o' salting 
the skin of the old wagon ? If yer don't tarn to and give 
orders out of hand to man the pumps that we may see what 
water the brig's making, it's up helium for Bristol City afore 
five bells, by God ! " 

This was defiance with a vengeance ! It wanted but ten 
minutes of the time threatened, but you knew by their scowls 
and savage glances and curse-laden growls that the crew 
were desperately in earnest and heartily frightened also. We 
were no great ship with the taut discipline of a Liverpool or a 
Blackwall liner fore and aft, only a contemptible little brig 
whose skipper was as mean in origin and " learning " as George 
who waited on him in the cabin, mean as the meanest man 
aboard, who, if he could read and count up figures, would be 
reckoned as well educated as the captain. 

Well do I recollect that strange picture: the crowd of angry, 
frightened men abreast of the main rigging ; the spider-legged 
skipper looking at them out of the corners of his eyes ; Fletcher, 
somewhat pale, near the wheel listening. The breeze was 
slackening, the dingy old fore course and topsails swung in, 
and then swung out, with every sputtering, sousing dip of the 
round bows, and with every dead fall of the square stern, the 
water flying white and hissing to each slopping chop of the 
old-fashioned counter, where the words " Hebe — Bristol " were 
to be read in long, white, staring letters. The sun was in the 
west ; in the wet, still pale, but slowly reddening light the 
land showed like a length of formless heaped-up thunder 
vapor ; it was of the very color of the storm, and you might 
have watched for fire to spit ; against it the white sails of a 
large distant bark shone like the pinions of a cloud of gulls 
startled and suddenly soaring. 

" I tell you," abruptly roared Cadman in a hurricane note, 
out of which all the natural greasiness was sent flying by 
temper, "that as much money's been put into this brig for 
repairs as *ud build a new un. There stands her owner," he 
yelled, pointing aft with an arm long, stiff, and curved, like 
a village pump handle. " He's Mr. Fletcher of Bristol. 
Who don't know him ? Who, knowing him, don't respect him ? 
Has he left his wife and charrain' family for the good of his 
health only to be drownded in the brig whose repairs have cost 


him a fortune ? Why, you ballyraggers, there's nothen tighter 
afloat than the Hebe, If Chips there/' he said, bringing his 
eyes, always in the corners of their sockets, to bear upon the 
carpenter, '' don't know that water swells and seasons and pre- 
sarves some kinds of wood, and oftentimes them that's mostly 
used in lining ships, why, then all I've got to say is that, 
though he may consider hisself a man, he's still got his trade 
to larn." 

The carpenter began to speak. 

" No words ! " bawled Cadman. " Get your rod, and mind 
ye don't spare the chalk. Drop it, and then all hands pump, 
and if more water comes in the brig's yourn," he cried, ad- 
dressing the men, ^* and me and Mr. Fletcher goes ashore in 
the jolly-boat." 

With that he walked aft and stood beside Mr. Fletcher with 
his arms folded, his head bowed, and his soft hat drawn upon 
his nose. 

The carpenter fetched the rod and carefully prepared it for 
sounding, while the seamen drew one of the pumps for its 
reception, for the Hebe was constructed on antique theories ; 
you looked in vain about her for anything modern and con- 
venient. The sailors, breathing hard, and flinging angry sen- 
tences and threats against the captain and ship one to another, 
squeezed round the pump while the carpenter sounded. A 
trifle over four feet of water was found in the hold. I reported 
this in a shout to the captain. 

**Punip!" he roared from where he stood alongside of 
Fletcher near the wheel. " Pump till the brig's all keel ! 
Pump till the butts start ! Pump and bust ! and I'll tally 
the cargo foryer as its washes through the scuppers." 

He continued to shout out language to this effect, all in a 
high, screeching, sarcastic note, till some of the men could 
hardly work the brakes for laughing. But they were the 
younger ones ; the older hands toiled grimly. The pump 
clanked like the click of some huge clock, and streams of 
muddy water gushed over the decks, and fizzed through the 
scupper holes as though we had veritably sprung a frightful 
leak and were pumping in a last extremity. 

After a bit the men ceased their labor ; the carpenter again 
sounded ; there was now a sensible diminution, rapid enough to 
convince me, and most of the men indeed, that the captain had 
spoken the truth, at all events that the brig was tight. 

" Pump ! " yelled Cadman. 

The brakes clanked again, and the water, now as muddy and 
thick as pease soup, bubbled and washed from side to side 


with the heave of the deck, and hissed overboard. I saw 
Fletcher step to the side and look over, not at the water, but 
at the brig ; and while he leaned, stretching his neck, his pear- 
shaped nose drooping past one hedge of whisker, the suspi- 
cion came into my head that all these tons of water had in some 
fashion been secretly let run into the brig to sink her a stroke 
or two to the eye, that it might be thought she had hauled out 
of dock with a good load. I can't say why I should have 
imagined this, nor was it in any way a purposeful suspicion, 
for it suggested nothing more than the desire of the owner to 
sail looking deep. 

I stood on the main deck watching the men, ready to give 
them a hand if the need arose ; the big shaft of the mainmast 
hid me from the captain. The carpenter was near me ; his 
words, audible to me, were not to be heard by the sailors 
owing to the noise of the pumps. 

'^ I don't want him/' said he, meaning by him the captain, 
" to tell me that they run water into vessels for * to take up,* 
as the term is, but it's no yarn to swaller when it's told of a 
full hold. When was the water let in ? Arter the stevedore 
had done with the brig ? Bet your legs, Mr. Morgan ! for 
what man in his senses 'ud stow a hold with four feet of water 
in it ? " 

'^ There's some reason in it that's above my tricks of sea- 
manship," I answered cautiously, for the spirit of the disci- 
pline of the sea ever worked strongly in me ; I did not choose 
as mate to talk ill of my captain with his carpenter. " The 
skipper's an old hand, and knows what he's about, no doubt." 

He looked at me with a slow, acid, wrinkling smile, which 
was just as good as saying : " Don't argue against your con- 
victions; but I understand what's in your mind." Here the 
sailors called upon him to sound the well again, and now the 
decrease was so marked as to satisfy us that the brig was a 
stanch keel. The men, however, spell after spell, held on 
till the pumps sucked ; they then waited a bit, afterward made 
the carpenter get a last cast, then rolled forward to supper, a 
grumbling, sweating, wearied body of men, bidding me go aft 
and tell the captain they were satisfied, though before they 
signed articles along with him again " he'd have first of all to 
lift his hatches and sound his own bloomin' well." 




After' this queer matter of the water in the hold nothing 
happened that recollection can now catch hold of, that is, for 
a few days ; it was little more than weather and wind with 
us, reefed topsails and strong bow seas, the water by day a 
darkling, frothing green, rolling out of a thick and sallow sky, 
which over our mastheads swept with the swiftness of smoke 
in flying scud, the breaks between sinister with stormy light ; 
while by night all was howling and whistling darkness, with 
the black body of the tub of a brig leaping upon the ghastly 
pale froth which her capers sent roaring from either side. 

Yet the little craft held her own well with the seas ; she 
jumped the tall surge with a dry forecastle, and though she 
pitched most abominably, she'd dish at a time little more than 
a bucketful of yellow suds ; the water flew in living sheets 
from the ponderous hurl of her round bow, with such a 
screeching and Addling and piping and roaring aloft ! Often 
I'd laugh outright at that multitudinous noise, that orchestral 
clamor of sweeping hemp and shearing spars, so human it was, 
so astounding in its suggestions of land-going rowdyism — yells 
and hair pulling in the blind alley, the shrieks and groans of 
a drunken riot, now swelling into the roars of an enraged mob, 
now sinking into the moaning of the trampled and the dying. 

This weather fell upon us when we were off the Cornish 
coast, and lasted us down to about 45° of north latitude. We 
speedily lost sight of Mr. Fletcher of Bristol, who lay sick unto 
death in the great cabin he had fitted up for himself, right aft 
under the wheel, where, of course, the motions of the vessel 
were to be felt most horribly ; where, too, were to be heard in 
perfection the sounds of the helm, the shock of the rudder, 
the grinding of the wheel tackles, the thunderous squash of 
the square counter smiting the sea. 

I took notice in this time of two or three matters which 
impressed me even in those early days, though, as in the case 
of the four foot odd of water in the hold, my distrust could 
make no use of them. First, the cabin equipment was penu- 
riously plain ; the table cloths were as coarse, dark, and old 
as the brig's canvas ; the black-handled knives and forks were 
of the cheapest and commonest ; the crockery was composed 
of odd pieces of the poorest sort of ware. The cabin fare was 
the worst I had ever sat down to at sea ; it was true that the 


beef and pork which we ate, which the sailors forward also 
ate, was up to the average of such offal ; what I mean is that 
in the cabin we scarcely fed better than in the forecastle. 
Such things as were not served out to the sailors were of the 
worst quality, such as the pickles, the tinned meat, the white 
biscuit, and the like. We carried no live stock of any sort, 
not so much as a lonely hen, to furnish us with a one-meal 
relish. It was certain this brig had put to sea as shabbily 
victualed as Cadman or his owner durst contrive, only that, 
the harness cask being up to the average, and the ship's bread 
with nothing discoverable in the way of worms as yet, no 
forecastle growls reached the cabin. 

It happened soon after the weather had improved, when the 
brig was rolling along over a swelling hollow ocean, with a 
single reef in her main topsail and the topgallant sail set above 
it,, the sky brightening out ahead to the southward, where the 
seas were running with frequent quick gleams of light, though 
northward the heavens were swollen with vaporous masses 
whose bellies stooped in sulky shadows to the sharp lines of 
the olive-colored ridges, that I stood beside Cadman a little 
before noon, sextant in hand, waiting with him for the sun to 
make eight bells. George, the young steward, in grimy shirt 
sleeves and bare-headed, came up through the companion and 
approached the captain. 

" What's it now?" said Cadman, speaking sharply. 

" There's no more rum left, sir." 

" Ho ! " cried Cadman. " Have you squeezed the jar ? " 

" There's ne'er a trickle," said George. " I guess I sarved 
out the last drop yesterday. There's nowt but the smell 
left, sir." 

"And haint that to be sarved out too?" exclaimed Cad- 
man, turning his eyes upon me with a grin, and then looking 
aloft for the sun. After a pause he exclaimed, "The men 
mustn't be kept waiting, Morgan. I'll make it eight bells 
while you take a lighted lantern — and mind it aint a naked 
flame — and go into the lazarette and broach one of the casks 
of rum that's stowed there." 

I put my sextant away, and, followed by George, went with 
a lantern into the lazarette. This was a part of the brig down 
in the run, under the cabin ; it was entered by a little hatch in 
the cabin floor. I dropped through ; George handed down 
the lantern and came after. I had not before visited this 
lazarette, nor indeed entered any part of the vessel's hold. It 
would have been pitch black but for the lantern, black as 
Storm and full of the thunder of the sea outside, with frequent 


violent shocks running through as the surge hit the brig and 
swung her. 

I held up the lantern and looked around. There was not 
much to see ; all the cabin provisions were here, and some of 
the stores for the crew's use. But the show was extraordinarily 
poor. I made out a few barrels of pork, a few casks of flour 
and bread, and a few cases of tinned meat and preserved 
spuds, along with some jars of lime juice and vinegar. 
Everything was " few." I spied no rum casks — nothing 
resembling such things. To search was not hard, for there 
was plenty of room. 

"Who says the rum's stowed down here?" I shouted, 
making my voice heard with difficulty, so confusing were the 
sounds of the straining and washing fabric in this lazarette. 

*' If it aint here it's nowhere else," answered George. 

I put on the hatch, gave the lantern to the steward, and 
went on deck. 

As I mounted the steps I found Mr. Fletcher holding on by 
the companion. He was of a tallowy paleness, and his 
whiskers wanted their former hedge-like wiriness. I wished 
him good-morning, and said I hoped he was now cured 
of his seasickness. He put his hand on his stomach and 
shook his head. 

" The nausea has passed," he said, " but I am somewhat 
feeble. Yet those who do business in deep water must be 
prepared for — for — this sort of thing," he bleated out after a 
pause, during which the brig gave one of her vicious kick-ups 
astern, followed by a long bowel-drawing slant over to lee- 
ward, till the oil smooth back of the huge sea swelled in a 
headlong run from the very edge of the bulwark rail. 

I walked up to Cadman, who ^ minute before had bawled 
out, " Strike eight bells," and said, ** There's no rum in the 
lazarette, sir." 

" Hey ! " cried he. 

I repeated the sentence. 

He seemed to start ; his dramatic recoil and convulsive 
straddle were very well managed ; I even fancied he con- 
trived that his long, snout-like face should turn a trifle pale. 

" Heavens alive, man, what d'ye say ? No rum ! " he cried. 
" Where have you looked ? " 

" In the lazarette, sir," I answered. 

" No rum ! " he cried again. " Man, you must be blind ! 
I saw the receipt for delivered hogsheads, and if you tell me 
there's no rum in the lazarette, then Mr. Abraham Winton 
stands to be convicted of one of the impudentest frauds that 


was ever brought afore the notice of an English court of law. 
Look again — look again ! " he yelled, with a demonstrative 
motion toward the forecastle, as if he would have the sailors 
observe what was passing. " Stop," he added, " I'll look for 

So saying he zigzagged off to the companion on his com- 
passlike legs and disappeared. 

Meanwhile Fletcher stood holding on, looking palely round 
upon the sea. Catching my eye he called me to him with a 
jerk of his head. 

" Nothing wrong, Mr. Morgan, I hope ? " said he. 

I explained. 

He too gave a dramatic start, and ejaculated, '' No rum 
for the sailors ! How's that ? The casks were ordered and 
paid for, and I understood from Captain Cadman that they 
had been securely stowed in the lazarette." ' 

" They may be in another part of the hold," said I. 

" D'ye think so ? I hope you're right. I fear they are not, 
though. You would know a rum cask at a glance ? " 

" At a glance." 

" If they are not in the lazarette, then I'm afraid they're not 
in the ship. Am I the victim of a cruel fraud ? Abraham 
Winton too, of all men — a person of the first credit in Bristol ! 
To cheat me, an old friend ! But there must be some mis- 
take ! " he exclaimed, letting go his hold to wave his hands 
with a large, benevolent gesture. 

Just then I noticed the ship's company gathering into a body 
near the galley, every man holding a pannikin for the "tot " 
that had heretofore been regularly served out at eight bells. 
Their uneasy movements indicated impatience, and the head 
of the cook came and went in the galley door like the comb of 
a cock through the rails of a hen coop. 

Then a voice bawled, "Aint that gallus young George 
a-going to show a leg with the grog to-day ? " 

At that moment Cadman came up the companion steps. 
He carried a manner of excitement, and talked aloud as he 

" Mr. Fletcher," said he, " you've been cheated ! Boil me 
alive," he cried, fetching the companion hood a hard blow with 
his fist, " if there's e'er a cask of rum or anything like it in the 
lazarette ! " 

Fletcher looked with an expression of dismay from Cadman 
to me, then round at the man at the wheel, who was easily 
within earshot. 

** We have Winton's receipt for the money," said he in a loud 


voice, and lie began to flourish his arms and topple about in 
postures of indignation and wonder and incredulity, all very 
well done seeing how poorly equipped the dog was as an actor, 
what with his stiff whiskers clamping his face, and his nose 
going like a rivet through the surface of his countenance, 
fixing it. 

" Aye, and the stevedore told me the goods were shipped. 
There's not only been an artful fraud : wuss lies behind — 
there's collusion ! " cried Cadman. 

" Aint we to have our regular 'lowance of grog to-day ? " 
sung out one of the crew angrily. By this time the fellows, 
all hanging together in a little mob, had come some distance 
forward, the carpenter in the front and the cook in the tail. 

" Speak to 'em, Cadman," said Fletcher. 

'' Will the casks have been stowed in another part of the 
hold ? " said I. 

" No ! " roared Cadman, " if they aint in the lazarette 
they're ashore. Of all the artfullest, impudentest cheats " 

Passion seemed to choke him, and he shook his fist at the 

" Speak to them," cried Fletcher. " Tell them how deeply 
grieved we are to disappoint them in their just and lawful 
expectations. Explain that I myself have been very cruelly 
used, and may suffer a heavy pecuniary loss if I cannot prove 
the non-shipment of the goods." 

" See here, my lads," exclaimed Cadman, going some paces 
forward with skating, dodging motions of his legs, " I'm sorry, 
to say there's no rum left in the brig. The little there was is 
all drunk up. Several hogsheads was ordered and paid for 
by Mr. Fletcher of Bristol there, and we've got the ship 
chandler's receipt if you want to see it, but ne'er a thimbleful 
of that there order has been delivered." 

The hairy, wiry man with the clasp knife round his neck — 
his name was Thomas Beetle — bawled out, " We don't know 
nothen about receipts nor Mr. Fletcher o' Bristol. We signed 
for the grog, and we must have it." 

" There's ne'er a drop in the brig, I tell 'ee," cried Cad- 
man, averting his face and looking askew at the man with 
eyes of murder. 

" What's that got to do with us ? " roared the cook, coming 
into the knot of seamen with a thrust of his naked yellow 

Fletcher let go his grasp of the companion hatch to address 
the men. A sudden lurch ran him violently against the bul- 
wark rail. He hung on by a belaying pin^ and, assuming the 


blandest patronizing manner and benevolent tone of voice his 
long seasickness and present uncomfortable posture permitted, 
he exclaimed, *' Men, let us discuss this unfortunate matter as 
friends. There's no need whatever to lose our tempers nor to 
indulge in violent language." 

" No taflfy," shoutea one of the sailors ; ** gi' us our grog. 
The grub's bad enough, and suffocate me if it's to be made 
wuss by your sneaking our 'lowance of rum from us." 

<' Men," exclaimed Fletcher, forcing a smile and attempting 
a large, bland, friendly gesture of arm, " I entreat that you'll 
not give vent to your feelings in strong and offensive 
language. My desire is to obtain for the crew of this brig 
a character for respectability, sobriety, and, let me add, 
piety " 

'< Blather aint going to be sarved out 'stead of rum aboard 
here! " shouted Beetle, springing in his temper half a fathom in 
advance of his shipmates. " 'Twasn't to be pump or sink with 
us, as ye know, capt'n ; that mucking job came all right. We 
don't want to say nothen more about it. But here's a matter 
of agreement 'twixt you and us. We want our 'lowance of 
rum. If it aint to be granted you'll work this here trough 
yourself. I'm one as goes below." 

He thumped his chest and swung his knife. 

" If you don't belay that infernal, impudent jaw of 

yourn " shouted Cadman. He checked himself with a 

sideways look at Fletcher. 

" What'll 'ee do, hey ? What'll 'ee do ? " snorted Beetle, 
with his face full of blood and his head stooped like a ram for 
the toss. 

"Get away forrard till I talk the thing over with Mr. 
Fletcher," cried Cadman, and he then stepped across to 
Fletcher, took him by the arm, and walked with him a little 
distance aft. 

The men, with rolling bodies and shuffling feet and mut- 
tering lips, waited. The spirit of mutiny showed strong in 
every face my sight went to. And indeed I heartily hoped 
for some bloodless outbreak of it to send us to an English 
port, for I was already sick of the brig, thoroughly distrusted 
Cadman, disliked and feared his companion and owner, and 
was very uneasy as mate under a theory of discipline which 
apparently made one end of the vessel as good as the other. 
I had witnessed revolt among seamen, but never such sudden, 
contemptuous defiance as this ship's company had exhibited. 
Yet I could have sworn to all hands of them as a sturdy, 
straight-minded body of sailors, above the average. Was it 


that they scorned Captain Cadman as a man immeasurably 
inferior to the lowest among them. 

He came along the deck after a few minutes, and, standing 
on wide legs, with his hands buried in his coat pockets 
and his face averted, he told the crew that he had been 
bidden by the owner of the Hebe to ofiFer them money in 
lieu of rum. This proposal was received with shouts of dis- 
approval. Several voices spoke at once. Cadman tried to 
obtain silence by shaking his fist ; then, finding his oppor- 
tunity, said that the money given for the rum would be cal- 
culated on the value of the spirit, duty paid. " This extrary 
money," he told them, "ye*ll take up at the end of the 
voyage, and a handsomer proposal never was made on a ship's 
decks afore." 

I looked and I listened, but could distinguish little, owing to 
the uproar. Every man bawled an insult or howled a threat 
on his own account without regard to what the rest were 
shouting; but I presently understood, and so did Cadman, 
that unless rum to supply their legitimate claims was not pro- 
cured from a passing ship within three days, they'd do no work 
except to sail the vessel back to Bristol. When they had 
made themselves perfectly clear on this point they went 

George came aft with the cabin dinner shortly after the 
cook had returned to the galley, and Fletcher, who had stood 
in talk with Cadman, went below. Cadman now approached 
me, and I naturally supposed that he would at once talk about 
this difficulty of the rum. Not a word did he say on the sub- 
ject. He told me to make sail if the wind decreased while 
he was at dinner, and to report any ship that should heave in 
sight. Then, looking toward the forecastle, he added, " I 
haint over-well satisfied with that there carpenter. He's . 
acting second mate, but he's too much in with the men to soot 
my books. I doubt that he's up to much. A pretty ship's 
carpenter not to know that wood's to be seasoned by water ! " 

"With a full hold ?" said I dryly. 

" Yes, and with a full hold," he answered, darting a malevo- 
lent glance at me. "What's dunnage for, hey? And how's 
he to know," he cried, with a toss of his chin toward the fore- 
castle, "what the lower tier of cargo consists of? It may 
come to you and me keeping watch and watch," and he walked 
muttering to the companion way and disappeared. 

He was wise, perhaps, not to fall foul of me in his temper, 
though there was an unmistakable gleam of dislike, if indeed 
no darker passion lived, in the look he had given me, I walked 


the deck, thinking hard. The fellow at the wheel accosted 
me, evidently wanting to hear what I thought about the men's 
grievance. I told him to mind his helm, and continued 
walking. There was no shadow of doubt that this business 
of the rum was a conspiracy betwixt Cad man and Fletcher to 
defraud the crew. The casks of spirit never had been ordered; 
one might swear to that. No ship chandler durst cheat so 
nakedly. Had the goods been ordered they would have been 
delivered, and a receipt given by the person in charge of the 
brig at the time. That person should have been the mate. 
Was this one among other reasons why my services had not 
been required until the day before we sailed ? What was 
intended ? 

Suspicion lay hard and dark in me, and yet I could not give 
it a name. Maybe I was somewhat thrown off the scent by 
the skipper offering the sailors money instead of rum. But 
the two men's pretended wonder and temper on my discover- 
ing that no spirit casks were in the lazarette, coming on top 
of that water which had swamped our hold when we warped 
out of dock, convinced me that something evil was in the 
hatching, though that it was to put our lives in jeopardy I 
could not believe, seeing that Mr. Fletcher of Bristol was one 
of us. 



It turned out, however (to my secret mortification), ho 
later than two days after the trouble about the grog, that 
Cadman was in luck, and thus it happened : 

I came on deck at eight o'clock in the morning to relieve 
the carpenter, and beheld one of the strangest scenes of sea 
and sky that I can recall. The weather was almost a calm ; a 
faint air blew, light as the breeze off a butterfly's wing, yet the 
brig under all plain sail was stealthily creeping over an ice- 
colored sea, heavily hung with curtains of white vapor. The 
stuff was thin in some places, and eastward you could see the 
sun through it, hanging dim and small there, like an old worn 

Though there was little air stirring, the vapor sailed stately 
over the face of the waters in vast blocks and columns of the 
sheen of Parian marble ; the white firmament seemed to rest 
upon them ; they opened in aisles, and presently down one 
spacious corridor — it th^n wanting eight or ten minutes pf 

A PLOT, 41 

two bells — I spied the figure of a large topsail schooner, her 
hull resting like a streak of ebony upon the sea, and her 
white sails blending with the mist till they looked like shreds 
of the vapor. 

The captain and Mr. Fletcher were in the cabin. I put my 
head into the skylight and reported a sail within two miles of 
us. They both came up ; our helm was shifted, and the brig 
floated slowly toward the schooner, her jib boom on end with 

This was the first sail we had sighted since the grog trouble. 
The sailors, at work on jobs aloft and in various parts of the 
deck, grinned soberly when they saw our helm shifted for the 
stranger. The fog thinned down as we advanced, leaving 
a wide breast of white water with a frosty-misty ripple of 
light under the sun at the foot of a soft mass of whiteness there. 

" A beautiful little ship ! ** said Mr. Fletcher, pulling at one 
wiry whisker with square-ended fingers, turning up. " A gen- 
tleman's private yacht, I should think, and not very likely to 
supply our wants." 

" A fruiter, sir, you'll find," exclaimed Cadman. " Sweet and 
flush with oranges and raisins from the Mediterranean. If 
I'm right she ought to be fible to oblige us, if not with the 
sperrit we want, then with summat hot enough to keep the 
— the — ahem ! quiet till we falls in with another vessel," and 
here he stole an askant look around the deck to observe who 

Presently we were within hail. A beautiful model that 
schooner was — a fruiter beyond question, as Cadman had 
said : long and low, with a saucy, piratic spring of bow, rak- 
ing, star-searching masts, and such a spread of gleaming win^ 
as seemed to carry her main boom half her own length over 
the taffrail. 

" Schooner ahoy ! " shouted Cadman. 

" Hollo! " echoed a tall man in a white wide-awake, leisurely 
coming to the quarter-deck bulwark rail and leaning upon it 
as though to survey us for his entertainment. 

" What schooner's that ? " 

" The Jack'O' 'Lanthorn^ from Barceloney to the Thames. 
What ship are you ? " 

The information demanded was vouchsafed. Cadman then 
sung out to me to back the main topsail, and while this was 
doing he bawled to the other to know if he had any rum to 
sell. The man stood upright and appeared to consider ; after 
consulting with another who had stationed himself alongside 
him, he cried back \ 


" How much d'ye want ? " 

" How much can you spare ? " 

" A quarter cask." 

'^ ril send a boat/' shouted Cadman with a spasmodic flour- 
ish of his hand. He was about to address me. *^ No ! " he 
said, " 1*11 go myself." He nipped Mr. Fletcher by the sleeve 
and walked apart with him, and while the boat was lowering 
I overheard them arguing on the value of a quarter cask of 
rum. Fletcher then brought some money from his cabin, and 
Cadman got into the boat and was pulled to the schooner by 
three seamen. 

I particularly noticed the age and meanness of that boat 
while Cadman was entering her. She looked as though, having 
been washed ashore from a wreck, she had been found stranded, 
blistered, and crazy, and straightway hoisted without a dab of 
paint or the blow of a hammer to the davits of the Hebe ; 
and scarcely had Cadman scrambled over the schooner's side 
when one of the men in that boat began to bale. 

The skipper was a longtime gone ; I reckoned he was trying 
to drive a bargain. The vessels had drifted a good boat's pull 
apart before the cask of rum was lowered to the men along- 
side. The boat then made for the brig, two hands rowing and 
one baling, and the cask was hoisted aboard. Cadman, with a 
purple face, came over the rail, and the boat was hooked on 
and dragged to the davit ends, discharging a stream of water 
as she mounted. 

At noon that day a " tot " of grog apiece was served out to 
the men, who said it was very good rum, better than what they 
had been having, and this perhaps because it was considerably 
above proof, too scorching for even the cook to drink neat. 

It held fair and very quiet throughout the day ; before the 
morning watch was out it was all clear weather, with a high 
warm sun and smooth, soft, dark blue water. It was my watch 
below from twelve to four. After I had worked out my sights 
I ate some dinner alone and entered my cabin, where, lying in 
my bunk after reading a while, I fell asleep. I was called at 
four by George, and again went on deck to relieve the car- 
penter, who, spite of the captain's talks and threats, still kept 
watch and watch with me. As I went up the companion steps 
Fletcher came out of his athwart ship's cabin under the wheel, 
and giving me a large, patronizing nod, went directly to the 
captain's berth. 

The waning afternoon was very glorious. There was a 
delicate vagueness of amber atmosphere at the junction of sky 
and water, which stretched the ocean into a measureless 

A PLOT. 43 

breast. Our canvas was yellowing with the afternoon light ; 
veins of fire were kindling in the tarry shrouds ; the old brass 
binnacle hood burnt with crimson stars, and the glass of the 
skylight flashed like the discharge of a gun as the brig slightly 
swayed. I seemed to find a sort of rude ocean beauty in the 
old tub this day as she floated on the quiet sea, with her top- 
most ill-fitting cloths sleeping to the breathing of the light 
breeze up there. She carried me in fancy to our home waters ; 
I beheld the white cliffs of the Channel, the black gaunt collier 
with dark canvas leaning from the breeze, with the green 
heights of the chalk beyond slipping by over her mastheads, 
and the wool-white line of the surf upon the sands dim passed 
her bow in contrast with the sharp white froth breaking in lit- 
tle leaps from the thrust of the old cutwater. 

I talked for a few minutes with the carpenter, who then went 
forward for a pannikin of black tea and a pipe of tobacco, and 
I started to stump or lounge about the deck for the two hours 
of the first dog-watch, with the promise of nothing to do but 
to send a lazy look aloft now and again and yawn. But when 
I had been on deck some ten minutes or so my left boot hurt 
me ; in short a corn of long standing began to worry me. To 
remedy this I went below to my berth for an old shoe, never 
supposing that I should be longer than a minute from the 

Hearing voices in the captain's cabin, that, as you remember, 
was next mine, I entered my birth very silently, not wishing 
Cadman to hear me. All was quiet down here ; the heave of 
the brig was small and faint. The voices next door sounded 
plain ; I could not help listening, but in listening I had almost 
forgot the errand which brought me below. 

" It's no good talking, Mr. Fletcher," I heard Cadman say, 
and in no tone of respect either ; " putting the brig ashore 
on the Salvages worCt do ! Til tell you the objection. Sup- 
pose we make them rocks in daylight : there's no clapping 
her ashore with a man like Morgan or the carpenter on the 
lookout. What then ? Are we to keep all on standing off 
and on until dark ? That 'ud be like my splitting to the crew 
and ruinating the whole bilin*, with a lively chance of an 
impeachment — don't they call it ? — to follow, and a sentence 
of lagging for the brace of us. You're no sailor. If you was 
you'd understand my objection." 

" I'm no sailor, it's true," answered Fletcher, speaking in a 
strong, warm voice, " but when a thing's concerted I'm for 
sticking to the programme. Look at this chart. Here you 
have an island with rocks and breakers all around it. There's 


not a spot on the ocean that offers better excuses for going 
ashore. D'ye mean to say you can't contrive to make it at 
night ? If you question your own reckoning/there's Morgan ; 
you may depend upon his observations to within a mile ; then 
work by dead reckoning till nightfall. It's only giving the 
helmsman the course for the rock, and there you are." 

•* Yes, there I am," responded Cadman in a sneering voice. 
" It is easy enough to say * there you are.* But * there you 
are's' soon mucked up into ' there you haint.' In traverses 
arter this pattern, sir, I don't put the brig ashore where she 
may be found a week or a fortnight arterward all stanch. 
When she strands she must go to pieces. Yer want no 
salvage job, I hope, along with our cargo ? She must go to 
pieces, I say, and in such a fashion that you and me won't 
perish in consequence. I want my life and you want yourn. 
Is that right ? " 

" Quite right," exclaimed Fletcher somewhat soothingly ; 
" of course our lives stand first. But why's Table Bay safer 
than these rocks ? " 

"How can yer ask? Fust of all, wrecks is constantly 
happening there. That's like greasing the ways. What ! 
Table Bay again ! people say. Time there was more lights. 
Time the authorities there contrived that ships shouldn't 
always be going to pieces. See, now" — and here I judged by 
the pause and what followed that Cadman exposed a chart of 
Table Bay and the coast to Fletcher — ** look at your oppor- 
tunities. Here they are, all the way from Moolly Point to 
Hout Bay. Green Point's the favorite spot. I'll swear to 
three neat jobs off it in four years. You can do what you 
like and choose your own time when you've got a coast like 
that to pick and choose from. No hurry either to make your 
port keep an offing — your sailors 'II find yer a reason. In the 
calmest weather there's always a big surf a-thundering ! I'll 
warrant it to float every stick and rag out of her before the 
morning ; yet in still weather the water's smooth to the very 
heave of the breaker, and if you've a boat that'll swim there's 
no risk." 

Fletcher remained silent ; I saw him in imagination over- 
hanging the chart with hedge-like whiskers and pear.shaped 
nose, musing upon the observation of the devil at his side. 

" I own," continued Cadman, softening his tone as though 
he fancied his companion was beginning to agree with him, 
" that the Salvage lies handy for the job, conveniently in the 
road and not by no means to be despised if so be Table Bay 
warn't a dumn'd sight more sootable. But there's no hurry. 

A PLOT, 45 

The money to be taken up is good enough to desarve a little 
waiting for. It'll look a thousand times more natural to go 
ashore down Table Bay way than on them handy rocks here. 
Everybody says on such occasions, 'ticularly when there's loss 
of life, 'What a pity! Just as they had reached their port 
too, pore chaps ! * I'm for putting all the nature that's to be 
got into jobs of this sort. Make true bills of 'em, Mr. 
Fletcher, true bills ! That's the tip." 

He laughed sloppily in his old manner. 

" I'll think over the matter a bit more before deciding," pres- 
ently said Mr. Fletcher. *' Not that I mean you mayn't be right. 
It's a big venture and dangerous. I want to see my way clear 
in the matter of life — my life and yours, Cadman ; and I want 
also to be satisfied that when the vessel's put ashore she'll be 
so thoroughly wrecked, so quickly gutted, that nobody will 
take the trouble to meddle with her. If portions of the cargo 
should wash up about Table Bay " 

"Who's going to swear to 'em?" interrupted Cadman. 
" Who's going to prove *em ourn ? " 

"The Salvages are uninhabited," continued Fletcher. 
" Wreck the brig there, and a month, two months, might pass 
without the hulk being visited. In that time the sea's bound 
to have made a clean sweep." 

" Two months, d'yer say ? I dunno. I'd not kiss the book 
on that. There's always some blasted Portugee or other 
a-landing from Madeira in sarch o' roots. 'Sides," he cried, 
raising his voice in a sudden fit of temper, and continuing to 
speak loud, though Fletcher called " hush ! " two or three 
times, "when you talk of casting a vessel away you're not to 
think only of the advantages of the place you choose. What's 
agin yer ? Ponder that Make a ledger entry of them Salvages 
and credit them with one, and debit 'em with twenty, and nine- 
teen's the contrary balance." 

Fletcher said something I did not catch ; Cadman then, 
insensibly, perhaps, imitating the other's tone, also spoke low. 
I waited, hoping to catch more. Hearing nothing, I went out, 
and as I did so Fletcher stepped from the captain's berth with 
a chart rolled up under his arm. 

He stood stock-still staring at me. As he did not offer to 
move I walked round the table to the companion steps, taking 
one look at his face — it was white as death. I turned when at 
the foot of the ladder to see if he watched or followed ; he 
had re-entered the captain's berth. 

On gaining the deck I stood for some minutes gazing aloft 
and around, scarce able to bring my wits so to bear as to focus 


the amazing devilish conversation I had overheard. I'll not 
say I was astonished — all along I had distrusted the scoun- 
drels, though I never knew what shape to give my suspicions — 
but I was dismayed ; indeed my consternation was extreme. 
Everything was clear now that I understood the two villains' 
design to wreck the brig. They had sunk her by a stroke or 
two of water in the dock that she might look to haul out re- 
spectably freighted. Their intention accounted for the old 
sails -and bad gear, for the stranded foot-ropes and rotten 
lifts, for what would turn out to be light anchors and short 
cables, with chafed stoppers and decayed catfalls, and for the 
mean cabin equipment and poor provisions. Their motive for 
cheating the men out of their rum was explained ; they never 
meant to pay the crew ; in truth they had talked as if they 
meant to drown them. 

What was I to do ? 

I paced the deck deeply considering. The sun was large and 
low ; it was a fine, warm, shining afternoon, the breeze gentle 
and steady, and the sea like an island lake save but for the light 
lift and fall of old ocean's bosom tranquilly breathing. The 
sailors were gathered in the forcastle yarning ; the carpenter 
stood a little away from a group of them with a pipe in his 
mouth and his arms folded, listening. I debated within my- 
self whether or not I should straightway tell him what I had 
heard. But if I do so, thought I, he'll certainly inform the 
crew, and a hundred to one that they'll lock the two scoundrels 
up and oblige me to carry the brig home to save the vessel and 
their lives. That would be piracy and mutiny as affairs stand. 
What could I prove ? The men below were two to one ; they'd 
outswear me, and I had no evidence. To be sure, the con- 
tents of the hold might convict them of fraudulent design. But 
until the brig was cast away the villains surely would be guilt- 
less of anything cognizable by the law. 

I paced the deck, resolved to think deeply and prudently 
ere deciding on action. Would the two rogues judge I had 
overheard them ? They might hope I had stepped into my 
berth for a minute and caught nothing material, nothing but 
the rumble of their voices. Would their fears allow them to 
think this? They might even now be trying the capacity of 
the bulkhead by talking either side of it. But granted that 
they made up their minds to believe I had got their secret ; 
what then ? Would they make away with me ? I had no fear 
on that head, somehow. I knew them now to be villains, but I 
was also cocksure they were cowards, willing to take their 
chance indeed of being lagged for a good booty, but very 


unlikely to venture their necks even for the freight of a plate 

I saw nothing of them for half an hour after I had left the 
cabin ; Cadman then came up humming some tuneless thing 
as he stepped with zigzag gait to the compass ; he glanced at 
the card, looked with a leisurely eye and a composed face 
round upon the sea, and gazed at the men forward without 
the least hint of uneasiness in his manner. I watched him 
furtively, but with impassioned attention all the same, and 
after a little felt so far reassured that I could swear he did not 
suspect I had overheard a word that had passed. He pres- 
ently pulled out one of his bad cigars and lighted it at a match 
held in his soft felt hat, glancing about him in a sailorly look- 
out way, and saying nothing to me according to his custom. 

It wanted something of two bells, the cabin supper hour. 
Fletcher now appeared and hung a while in the companion 
hatch, looking round upon the placid scene of glorious ocean 
afternoon with a bland patronizing air that pronounced he 
found it satisfactory. His color had returned, and he was 
entirely the large-chinned, whiskered, pear-shaped nosed Mr. 
Fletcher of Bristol again. 

" Lovely weather, Cadman," he called out. 

" Aye, sir," answered Cadman, speaking with his cheap cigar 
drooping at his lips. "There's no shore-going physic to 
match this. Here's medicine to restore you to your home a 
well man, Mr. Fletcher." 

The owner of the brig lifted up his eyes with an expression 
of gratitude, then stepped over to the captain and they walked 
the deck. 



When supper was reported ready Fletcher and Cadman 
went into the cabin and sat at the table under the skylight, 
which stood open, so that I caught their talk as I paced past ; 
it was on indifferent matters, and might have been the chat of 
two men meeting for the first time. I was mighty pleased that 
neither of the rogues had addressed me when on deck ; I was 
young, with a telltale face ; I wanted a little time to master 
myself. It is an earthquake shock to any man to stumble 
unawares on a great crime in the hatching, to all on a sudden 
come across that ancient, foul, black hen Sin on one of the 
deadliest of her blood-red eggs. 


I resolved to be decided by the behavior of the two mis- 
creants ; if they gave me to know by the least hint that they 
were aware I had overheard their talk, then I should go to the 
carpenter, tell all, and be advised by him as an old experienced 
seaman. If, on the other hand, I judged by marks conclusive 
to my own instincts and apprehensions that the two men did 
not suppose I had listened, but that they were willing to 
imagine I had looked into my cabin for a minute, taking what 
I wanted and leaving quickly, seeing that I had charge of the 
deck, then I determined to hold my peace, for the present at 
all events, always keeping a vigilant eye upon the brig's reckon- 
ing and upon Captain Cadman. If they meant to cast the 
brig away 'twixt Agulhas and Cape Town I should have plenty 
of leisure for thinking on what was best to be done. As things 
stood I could offer no other proof of their design than declar- 
ing what I had overheard, but by waiting I might be able to 
bring their villainy home to them, and obtain evidence to justify 
myself and the crew in taking any steps we might think proper 
to save our lives and the ship. 

The two men sat in the cabin until shortly before six. Cad- 
man then came on deck and talked to me about the starboard 
fore shrouds being slack ; he said those shrouds and other 
ngging which he named needed setting up afresh. He also 
told me that next morning he would require me to overhaul 
the stock of fresh water aboard. 

" The casks are stowed under the main hatch," he said. 
" They're easily got at. No need to break out anything. Ever 
called at Madeira ? " ' 

" Never." 

" It's a Portuguese island, aint it ? " 

" Yes." 

" Them Portuguese are just the most swindling people on 
the face of the yearth. They sarved me some gallus tricks at 
Lisbon — might have ruinated me with their withering charges. 
Always keep th' horizon 'twixt you and a Portugee. We're a 
poor ship, and there's nothen in this here voyage that's a-going 
to set me up for life. Suppose we should need to fill a cask or 
two with fresh water, will Madeira charge me a shilling a 
gallon ? More'n likely. Them Portuguese 'ud chouse a ship- 
master into bankruptcy as easy as lighting one of their 
dummed paper cigars. D'yer know the Salvages ? " 

" I've sighted them," I answered, meeting his askant gaze 
coolly. I was now perfectly self-possessed, striving meanwhile 
to interpret his looks, but his snout-like face was as expres- 
sionless to my needs as the head of a cod. 


" I fancy there's fresh water to be got there — I atnt sure." 

" They're uninhabited, I believe ? " 

" So the yarn goes. Likely as not. So much the better if 
they're desolate. You take your fill and there's nothen to pay. 
It's only a matter of rafting a few casks, and there y'are." 

As he said this four bells were struck, and the carpenter at 
once came aft to relieve me. Cadman turned on his heel and 
looked down the skylight for Fletcher, and I stepped below to 
get some supper. I found Fletcher at the table making notes ; 
he at once pocketed his book, and in his accustomed way of 
addressing me asked about the weather, our rate of progress, 
where the trade wind was to be found, and so on. He left 
me, after a few minutes, to eat my supper alone. 

It now entered my head to imagine that the two men meant 
to watch me through the mask of their habitual behavior to 
gather by my looks or speech whether I had overheard them. 
I munched my supper lost in thought. My situation was ex- 
traordinary for its tragic difficulty. Nevertheless I determined 
on holding by my first resolution to carefully keep my own 
counsel, at all events for the present. What did Cadman 
mean by talking of watering at the Salvages ? We could not 
be running short of fresh water yd ! Had the two villains 
concerted during the time they were alone, after I had stepped 
out of my cabin and met Fletcher — had they agreed, I say, to 
wreck the brig on the Salvages, after all — choosing to be quick 
with the criminal job now they might fear I had got wind of 
their intention ? 

Again and again in thus thinking I half started from the 
table or from my bunk, where I afterward lay down to smoke 
a pipe till eight o'clock, resolved to tell the carpenter what I 
had heard and to bring the crew into the secret. But I was 
regularly checked by this consideration : What proof have I ? 
The two fellows would bluster, talk big, look innocent, swear 
I was a foul liar, quiet the crew with repeated assurances, 
meanwhile lock me up, with irons on my legs, leaving me to 
lie in my cell of a cabin when they actually did put the brig 
ashore, so that it might end in my being drowned. 

The night passed quietly. Fletcher took a few turns of the 
deck with me at about nine o'clock. He talked of Bristol, 
asked me questions about my father, my experience as a sailor, 
and so on. In a vague way he made me understand that he 
had taken a fancy to me, and equally vague was the sort of 
hint he ran through his speech that it might be before long in 
his power to offer me command of a vessel. He went below 
with Cadman, and Ibey played at draughts till five bells. I 


would come to a stand sometimes and sneak a look at them as 
they sat under the open skylight. You precious pair, thought 
I. It was hot, and Fletcher's face was oily ; his whiskers 
glistened with distilled dewdrops. He looked a very respec- 
table man ;• I admired his satin cravat with its two large pins, 
his stifif stick-up collar through whose sharp points his chin 
seemed to have burst as though, like a pale suet pudding, it 
had broken through its bag in boiling ; I noticed a large 
signet ring on his little finger, and his watch chain was of 
thick gold, and stretched from one waistcoat pocket to the 
other with a bunch of seals and fal-lals between. Oh, you vil- 
lain ! I thought. The other scoundrel played with his head 
on one side and his little eyes leering down upon the draught 
board out of their corners. His right hand wandered often 
to a tumbler of spirits. Sometimes they talked, and one or 
another would break into a laugh. After watching them a while 
I said to myself : They don't believe I overheard them, for 
all Fletcher's turning white as death on meeting me at that 

The light breeze freshened at seven bells, and before turn- 
ing in I had taken the fore royal and flying jib off the brig, 
leaving it to the carpenter to let her wash along for the next 
four hours under such sail as he chose to hang on to. We 
were at this time about 120 miles northeast of Madeira, 
heading a course that would put that island abreast just out 
of sight behind the horizon to the westward. If Cadman was 
aiming for the Salvages he was on the straight road for those 
rocks, which lie in latitude 30** 7' N.,and longitude 15^ 54' W. 
They are about 118 miles north of the Canaries — that is, Ten- 
eriffe, and within an easy run of Madeira. I had sighted 
them on one occasion at a long distance. The mariner com- 
monly gives them a wide berth, though the Great Salvage 
Island shows a bold peak of 455 feet in one place. I had 
never heard of a ship watering there, and did not know, indeed, 
that there was fresh water to be found on the rock. What 
had Cadman in his mind ? 

It blew fresh during the middle watch and down to six bells 
in the morning watch. I found the mainsail furled when 
I came on deck at four, and the brig driving along over 
a short quartering sea under a main topgallant sail and a 
reefed trysail. She broke the black water in white masses 
from her bows, as though the squab tub, like something 
sentient, pursy, yet vigorous withal, blew for breath as she 
pitched and burst her way along, with a noisy howling of wind 
aloft among her rags and slack gear, and much roaring under 


her counter, where the race of her wake boiled in light like 
a paddle wheel's back wash. 

But after sunrise the breeze slackened. I heaped every 
cloth upon the old cask and ran up a fore topmast studding 
sail, and at eight o'clock she was wallowing over it at about 
seven knots, having measured about seventy sea miles since 

After breakfast Cadman told me to hift the main hatch and 
find out what quantity of fresh water there was in the brig. 
He hung about the hatch while we were at this work and 
watched us closely, backing and stooping to catch a sight of 
me when I got into the gloom under the deck. Fletcher also 
came to the hatch and looked on for some time. I forget the 
number of water casks. They were stowed on top of the 
cargo, which just here rose high and seemed fairly plentiful, 
though I well knew the brig would have been sunk some feet 
deeper had the goods been stowed flush fore and aft as they 
showed in the square of the hatch. The lading appeared to 
consist of casks and cases. Knowing what I knew, I might 
have sworn that whatever they contained was warranted to 
sink on the brig going to pieces. 

I calculated enough fresh water to carry us to the Cape 
without risk, a fair average passage being granted. A quan- 
tity having been already used, there were, of course, several 
empty casks among the full ones. I came out of the hold, 
and Cadman stood beside me, watching eagerly while the 
sailors put the hatch cover and tarpaulin on and securely 
battened them down. When that was done he turned his 
eyes upon me with a sort of leering, cocky, expressive look, 
which seemed to me like saying : You're satisfied now, per- 
haps, that the brig has a cargo ? 

We then went down into the cabin, where I made the cal- 
culation I have given above, Fletcher sitting opposite, and 
Cadman looking over my shoulder. 

" What's the quantity, d'yer say, Mr. Morgan ? " inquired 
Fletcher, leaning back with his fingers buried in his waistcoat 
pockets, the thumbs outside, curling up. 

I answered the question. He looked at Cadman, who said : 

" We ought to fill up, sir, I think." 

" You allow ten weeks to the Cape — a good margin ; and 
here's Mr. Morgan's calculations, giving you a supply for 
fifteen weeks — a better margin still," said Fletcher, with one 
of his large smiles, which his whiskers seemed to stop from 
overflowing his neck and back as though they were embank* 


'' Yer dunno know what thirst is at sea, Mr. Fletcher/' said 
Cadman. " Morgan 'II tell you there's nothen orfler. I'm for 
having plenty of water, fresh and sweet, sir, 'ticularly when it's 
to be got for nothing." 

" We don't want to be unnecessarily delayed," said Fletcher 

" It can't be a matter of more'n a few hours, weather per-, 
mitting," exclaimed Cadman. *' Suppose a fortnight or three 
weeks o' calm on the line, and three or four weeks o' hard 
head winds in the tail o' the southeast trade, the brig blowing 
to the west'ard on a bowline, or with an athwart ship wake 
and a treble-reefed main tops'l. It might come to it. The 
like of such things happen at sea. Hey, Mr. Morgan ?" 

"Aye, indeed they do," said I, who was now standing up, 
looking from one to the other of them as they conversed. 

Fletcher continued to talk argumentatively ; he seemed in 
a half-hearted way opposed to the Great Salvage watering 
scheme, though Cadman gave him several reasons for filling 
up at that island, all of them very plausible ; indeed they 
would have been sound had the intention been honest. But 
I had not listened long when I saw it had been settled between 
them that we should heave to off the rocks. 

Their project put a new face upon my difficulty. Did the 
rogues intend to clap the brig ashore under the excuse of 
filling up with fresh water ? Twenty times that day had I a 
mind to communicate with the carpenter, and through him 
with the crew. If the captain cast the vessel away, then my 
statement to the carpenter would be beforehand with the vil- 
lain ; there would be that man and the crew to prove I had 
overheard the skipper and Fletcher talking about wrecking the 
vessel. Yet the old consideration daunted and silenced me; 
I mean the fear that Cadman would talk the sailors over, lock 
me up, ruin my professional chances, or so use me as in the 
end to destroy me. 

Nothing, however, in the behavior of the two men caused me 
to suspect they knew or feared I had their secret. I particu- 
larly observed this, and was so astonished, seeing that Fletcher 
had met me on the very threshold of the captain's berth, that I 
should have doubted my own hearing and believed I had 
totally misunderstood all that had passed between them if it 
were not I was now certain that neither man imagined I had 
overheard the conversation. 

It was on a Tuesday morning that I made that calculation 
about the water, and on Thursday, soon after sunrise, a man 
who had gone aloft to cut away some flapping bit of chaffing 


gear, sung out from the fore topmast crosstrees that there 
was land on the starboard bow. It was such a morning as 
one would expect to find in those latitudes. The sun was hot 
and sparkling, though but a few degrees above the horizon, 
and his reflection was a spreading breast of trembling splen- 
dor ; all the eastern sea was afiame with fires of silver glory. 
The sky was high, with delicate frost-colored cloud that cob- 
webbed the blue from the zenith to the western sea-line. The 
sea ran with a light heave in the wake of the northerly breeze; 
it lifted and sank with a prismatic sheen in the atmosphere 
close down over the dark blue of it that made you think of a 
vast satin carpet swelled with the wind and splendid with a 
strong light slipping from one glossy rolling fold to another. 

The brig floated slowly forward under ill-fitting lower and 
topmast studding sails, the watch scrubbing the decks, the 
scuppers gushing cloudy streams into the blue brine, which 
passed alongside crisp and beautiful, with little foam bells 
and twinkling bubbles of froth and lines of ripple breaking 
from the cutwater like the strings of a harp, musical with their 
fountain-like notes. The land was in sight from the deck at 
ten, a double-humped stretch of blue shadow, fining down into 
a pencil-shaped point southeast. It was the Great Salvage 
Island, a rock of about a mile broad and little less than a 
mile wide, then bearing about two points on the starboard 

Cad man was on deck at this time, armed with an immense, 
old-fashioned telescope, which he would frequently level as 
though it had been a blunderbuss. Fletcher hung beside him, 
and sometimes took the great glass from his hand and pointed 
it. The carpenter had charge of the deck and was walking in 
the waist. I was too anxious to see what went forward to 
keep below, and stationed myself beside the galley, where I 
was out of sight of Cadman. The carpenter, spying me, 
came trudging a little bit forward, so as to talk without stop- 
ping in his short, pendulum walk. The watch were scattered 
about the deck, one at the wheel, two on jobs aloft, a fourth 
stitching at a sail near the main hatch. 

<' Do the captain mean to water at that there island ? " said 
the carpenter. 

" Yes," I answered. 

" George brought the news forward. Our fresh water has 
given out plaguey soon, haint it, Mr. Morgan ? Looks as if 
they'd thought more of swamping the hold than filling the 
casks. D'ye know anything of that island, sir ? " 

" Nothing whatever," I answered, smoking stolidly, care- 


fully watching the rocks' bearings meanwhile to observe how 
the skipper was heading the brig. 

** What's the facilities for watering there, I wonder ? Have 
the folks ashore got e'er a hose? Or do it come along- 
side ? " 

" There's no hose," said I. " The island's as naked as my 
pipe bowl." 

At this he stopped in his walk and looked at the land under 
the sharp of his hand, then glanced aft at Cadman and 
Fletcher, and fell to trudging afresh with the slow, rolling, 
sulky gait of your true-born merchantman. 

'* Are we so hard up for a drink of water as this here stop- 
page 'ud make out ? " said he. 

" The skipper means to fill his empty casks." 

'^ If the island's not inhabited how de 'ee know that there's 
any fresh water to be got there ? " 

" I can't tell you." 

He took another look at the island under his hand, and 
muttering with a puzzled face, *' Blamed if there aint a good 
deal aboard this brig that's not to be understood," he stepped 
back to the part of the deck which he was first pacing. 



I WALKED aft, meaning to put my pipe away and shave. 
Fletcher stood motionless beside a backstay, against which he 
steadied Cadman's huge telescope ; he was viewing the island 
as though absorbed by the sight, bjit then after you have kept 
the sea for many days you'll look at even the littlest fang of 
rock with interest as representing land anyhow. 

Cadman was walking the deck with quick, agitated strides ; 
his movements reminded me of a thrush — a run of half a 
dozen steps, then a dead stop and a look up aloft. I had my 
hand on the companion hood in the act of descending when he 
called me. 

" Morgan, see all clear with the jolly-boat. I mean to 
heave to off that there island. You'll go ashore with a couple 
of hands and see if there's any fresh water to be 'ad. I've 
always understood there's a spring on that northeast point. 
If not, hunt about ; if seeking won't find it, try what digging '11 
do. Git a shovel chucked into the boat. Mr. Fletcher 'II go 
along with you. He says he feels like wanting to stretch his 


legs on dry land, and since I'm bound to heave to, for them 
water casks must be filled — though, of course," said h'e, point- 
ing to the island, ** if there aint no water there, why — why — 
what was I a-saying ? Oh, yes ; since I'm bound to heave to, 
Mr. Fletcher's quite right to go ashore. Why not? The 
opportunity of visiting a desolate island dorn't often happen 
even to a sailor man in a lifetime. It'll be something for him 
to talk about to his family and friends when he gits home." 

All this he said with his eyes upon me in their corners as 
usual ; he then started off on his thrush-like walk again, an 
agitated run of little hops, a dead stop, and a quick look up 
of his snout-shaped face. 

The jolly-boat hung at davits on the port quarter ; I saw all 
clear with her — her old oars in, rudder ready for shipping, 
and so forth. It was plain to me now that no mischief was 
intended to the brig by this proposed heaving of her too off the 
Great Salvage Island. Indeed she was being so steered as to 
give the rock as wide a berth as prudence required. We were 
floating down to it on its western seaboard, keeping it on the 
port bow ; already I saw the light of breakers at a little dis- 
tance round about it in eager tremulous flashes on the dark 
blue water. The wind was north ; we were carrying it almost 
dead over the taffrail, and the brig, softly swaying, was wrin- 
kling along at some four knots. 

I thought no more of shaving myself, and having called to 
a hand to fetch the shovel out of the fore peak — the only shovel 
the brig carried — I stood in the gangway looking at the island. 
Fletcher continuously eyed it through the telescope ; some- 
times Cadman stopped in his jerky walk to talk with him, but 
their voices were subdued, and reached me only in a low mur- 
mur or growl of conversation. 

By this time we had the island over the port-cathead, distant 
about five miles, little more as yet than a dark blue hazy heap, 
with a milk-white gleam of surf here and there at its base, and 
features of the land slowly stealing out of the airy shadow it 
made against the mackerel blue of the sky low down past it. 
Cadman called across to me that there was no need to take an 
observation with that land in sight. So we made eight bells 
by the cabin clock, and all hands went to dinner. 

When the meal was over the island was about a mile away, 
and Cadman sung out for a hand to jump into the fore chains 
with the hand lead. George brought some dinner on deck for 
the captain and Fletcher, and they ate it standing at the sky- 
light, while I went below and got through a meal of beef and 
ship's bread, topped by a pannikin of rum and water, in five or 


six minutes. On returning I found the island abeam and the 
watch running about trimming sail. Fletcher stood at the 
backstay as before, strenuously studying the lump of rock 
through the telescope. 

'* There's no sign of a place for landing on the west coast," 
Cadman bawled to me as I put my head through the com- 
panionway. '* We must keep all on till we see what the eastern 
beach offers." 

The man in the fore chains was silent ; he had, indeed, 
swung the lead to no purpose ; there was apparently no bottom 
to be touched with the short scope of the hand line on this 
west side. The island seemed to be formed of volcanic matter 
and rocks, with strata of loose clay. I observed an appear- 
ance of vegetation on top, where the slopes showed of a sullen 
bluish green., A vast quantity of birds were flying over the 
island and wheeling and curving low down, looking like pieces 
of torn and blown paper against the stretch of pumice-hued 
coast. The sea brimmed smooth to the rocks on the western 
side, then broke in tall glass-clear combers, and the bursting 
falls of that white water came along like the rolling notes of 
an electric storm. The west side, indeed, was wild with surf 
and inaccessible besides ; but as we hauled round to the south 
opening, a good wide yawn of bay, past a long, pencil-shaped 
arm of rock, we saw the sea flowing smoothly in a number of 
shallow creeks and divisions in the shore, and here the play of 
surf was very trifling. 

The leadsman in the fore chains began now to chant, making 
sixteen fathoms, then seventeen, then twenty, and so on, till 
we hove the brig too in twenty-three, the land then being some- 
thing more than a mile off,'and bearing about N. N. W. 

" Are yer ready to go ashore, Mr. Fletcher ? " cried Cad- 

" Quite ready," answered the other. " I have been search- 
ing the island carefully with the glass," he continued in a loud 
voice, as though desirous that all hands should hear him, " and 
can't make out any signs of water." 

" It may be a-flovvin' out of sight," said Cadman. 

" I looked for the gleam of a waterfall," exclaimed Fletcher, 
" but, as you say, there may be water there out of sight. I'm 
ready, Mr. Morgan." 

The jolly-boat was lowered and brought alongside. Two 
seamen and Mr. Fletcher entered her and I followed ; she 
was a tub of a boat, just such a fat and lumpish child as would 
dangle at the nipple-like davits of the old Hebe, I headed 
her for a little bit of a bay on the south side of the island ; 


the water lay perfectly still there ; further I had taken notice 
of a slope of white beach that promised us an easy climb to 
the top of the rocks. 

" The sensation of being close to the sea after the elevation 
the brig's deck gives you is, to say the least, a little queer," 
said Fletcher, looking at the water. '^ I believe I should be 
sick if I stayed long in this boat." 

" Give way, my lads," I sang out. " The sooner we're 
ashore the shorter the spell of baling." 

One of the fellows scowled as he looked at the bottom of 
the boat, the other delivered a low, grim laugh, while I picked 
up the half of a cocoanut shell and began to throw the water 
out. The owner of the boat gazed at his brig with a fast yel- 
lowing face. I sent a glance at her too while I baled ; she 
sat high and showed two or three feet of green sheathing ; 
the long white letters of her name snaked in the blue brine 
under her counter like streams of quicksilver sinking ; she 
had the look of a worn-out collier with her dingy, swinging, 
ill-fitting canvas, main topgallant mast stayed aft, and bow- 
sprit steeved to an angle of 45^. What's she and her cargo 
and freight insured for ? I wondered. 

" She's no beauty," said Fletcher, meeting my eyes, " but 
she has carried us bravely and safely so far, and we have much 
to be thankful for." 

I was now looking at the island, which we were fast nearing. 
It was mouse-colored in some parts, chocolate-colored else- 
where, coated here and there with some sort of herbage ; the 
western peak made a bold show ; it rose to a height of per- 
haps five hundred feet in rings of soaring ground. A long 
hill went north and south on the east side overlooking the 
wide curve of bay. I saw no trees, but upon the seaward sides 
of the heights were many clusters of bushes, small, thick masses 
of vegetation like huge green sponges clinging to the declivities. 

Steering with one hand and baling with the other, I headed 
the jolly-boat into the bay ; her stem grounded on the white 
sand and I jumped out, Mr. Fletcher following. 

" Haul the boat up," said I to the men. " She'll drain so." 

" Keep by her — don't leave her. Mind ! " said Mr. Fletcher. 
" Mr. Morgan and I will search for water. If the boat goes 
adrift our situation will be awkward." 

The fellows surlily muttered "Aye, aye." They did not 
love Mr. Fletcher of Bristol, and the condition of his jolly- 
boat no doubt put a strong meaning into their thoughts of 
him just then. 

I shouldered the shovel, and we started. The ascent was 


easy, but the sun was hot and there was no shade. The climb 
to the top from where the boat lay was short ; the land ran 
level for a little distance north and east, rising quickly then 
into a hill which nearly filled the east side of the island. It 
was a walk of about a mile from end to end. Large tracts of 
the soil, if soil it can be called, were covered by a plant called 
by the Spaniards barilla^ by us saltwort, bushes of a pale 
bluish green, rising a little above a foot high, with prickly 
leaves like a cobbler's awl. Fletcher stooped his whiskered 
face to one of those bushes and asked the name of the plant. 
I have since learnt that and its use (they get carbonate of 
soda from it), but could not then tell him. 

He stood up, tipped his wide straw hat on to the back of 
his head, and turned his pear-shaped nose slowly round the 
island and the ocean. 

" This will furnish me with an impressive memory," said he, 
slowly clasping his hands and smiling approvingly. " I shall 
turn to the pages of * Robinson Crusoe ' with renewed zest. 
I have not read that story since the days of my boyhood. It 
comes upon me fresh and strong with this picture of loneliness 
and desolation." 

His little eyes traveled over the island as he talked. 
I caught a tone in his voice that was new in him ; his face was 
yellow, and his mouth and eyebrows twitched and worked, 
I took these symptoms to mean that the pull in the boat had 
disordered him somewhat. 

We had the brig clear in sight. The sun was upon our left 
and raining its splendor upon her, and she lay radiant as 
though gilt — a toy of amber ; all that was glossy with paint 
or grease or tar was streaked with fire ; her yellow topmasts 
burned, and golden flashes broke from her wet side as she 
rolled. I had never seen the plain of ocean look vaster, not 
even from the royal yard of a twelve hundred ton ship, and 
bending my eyes steadily into the south while Fletcher with 
large nostrils and an odd hurry in his way of looking was 
peering round, I seemed to distinguish in the distant air the 
faint blue liquid shadow of the Peak of Teneriffe. 

As we moved, rabbits skipped from the bushes and fled to 
other hiding places. 

" I see no appearance of water," said Fletcher. 

" Nor I, and I doubt if there's any to be found by digging," 
said I, bringing the shovel down ringing upon the hard, lava- 
like surface. 

" Where would Cadman have you dig," he asked, " if not 
on top here ? " 


" Fresh water might be found under the sand down yonder, 
but not enough nor sweet enough at that to serve our turn," 
I replied, pointing to the wide spread of white beach extend- 
ing between the horns of the east bay, which we could now 
see down the slope of the hill. 

" Let us try on the other side before we wear ourselves out," 
exclaimed Fletcher, and he moved away with some briskness 
toward the rising ground on the west seaboard. 

I was sensible in his manner of a peculiarity which I could 
not define. He seemed hard and frightened also. It entered 
my head as I followed him to wonder if this visit for water 
was merely an excuse of his to examine the island with a view 
to Cadman wrecking the brig upon it that same night. It was 
certain, supposing we met with fresh water, that we should not 
be able to raft the casks and fill them till next day, therefore 
a long night lay before the two villains ; there were shoals 
enough to choose from, and the sky promised fine quiet 
weather. Suspicion grew so strong in me as I followed the 
bulky figure of the rogue that I now determined^ on returning , 
to the brig, to acquaint the carpenter with what I had over- 

Scores of birds wheeled over our heads uttering cries like the 
bleating of lambs ; they were extraordinarily fearless, even to 
the extent of not getting out of our way; indeed they obliged 
us on several occasions to step over them. 

" I see no water," said Fletcher. 

" I don't think you'll find any on this side," I exclaimed. 

The ascent was growing painful under the roasting sun, and 
the soil betwixt the patches had a parched, dry face, full of 
splits. Still Fletcher pushed forward, moving his head from 
side to side as though peering for water. Presently striking 
off to the left he reached the edge of the cliff, and stood 
staring seaward with his hand sheltering his eyes. The height 
above the ocean here was about a hundred feet ; on our right 
the hill soared ruggedly to that tall west peak I have before 

"This is a noble view," exclaimed Fletcher; "how truly 
magnificent is that play of surf at the bottom there." 

I drew close and stood beside him to look ; at that instant 
he stepped back. 

" Curse you ! this '11 keep you silent ! " I heard him say. 

The next moment he thrust me over the edge. 

I remember hearing of a sailor who, in falling from a royal 
yard, while in the air said to himself, " This is well enough if 


it would but last." I know from experience that a man can 
think even in the flash of a fall. I recollect the expression 
the villain used as he pushed me, the pressure of his fists under 
my shoulder blades as I was hurled forward. I also recollect 
the sensation of the lead-like drop through the air, followed in 
a breath by a mighty crash, which did not, however, in that 
instant render me senseless, because I can remember thinking 
that I had hit the sea, and that the loud smashing noise was the 
foam raised by my plunge. But after this all was blank. 

When I opened my eyes it was dark. I ' tried to lift my 
arm, but found myself as completely snared and meshed 
about as though lodged in the heart of a hundred fathom 
of trawl net. My wits were slowly returning. Presently I 
got my mind, though feebly, and my first perception was that 
my head ached most damnably. I could not imagine what 
gripped and bound me so tenaciously till after a bit, by waving 
my hands at the wrists without moving my arms, I perceived 
that I was enveloped by twigs and leaves. Light shone 
through what resembled a cage of wire fencing, thickly com- 
plicated by layer upon layer ; it was the light of the moon. 
While I lay wondering, utterly confounded and thunderstruck 
by my situation, I heard the deep, organ-like note of surf 
rolling beneath me, the thunder of the breakers bursting and 
recoiling with the noise of electric hail. This it was, I think, 
which gave me all I needed to know, for after I had listened 
for a few minutes to that sound of the sea everything came 
to me. 

It was clear that on my being thrust over the edge of the cliff 
I had plunged into one of those growths of bushes which hung 
here and there in clusters, sponge-shaped, as before described. 
The crash of the twigs and leaves in my ears — the last thing 
I recollect — made the roar which I had supposed the thunder 
of foam. With perception of my situation rose with exquisite 
keenness the sense of horrible peril. I might guess by the 
noise of the surf that I was hanging at a height of fifty or 
sixty feet, and if I wriggled — nay, if I attempted to move, I 
might burst through the frail nest of bush and be instantly 
killed on the hard beach below. 

It had been about three o'clock when we landed on the 
island; it was now night and the moon shining. How long had 
I hung insensible ? My head ached cruelly. I imagined I 
had struck some knob of cliff, and that I should find my hair 
hard with blood dared I wrestle to clear my arm. 

I lay in a strange posture, doubled up ; I had struck the 
bush sitting fashion, and the squeeze of the twigs and boughs 


brought my knees close to my face. It was hopeless to think 
of attempting to release myself till daylight. I did not recol- 
lect the character of the front of the cli£( beneath me, and 
could do no more than pray with the utmost fervor that I 
should be able to descend it. 

The prospect of dawn disclosing a sheer wall to the wash 
of the surf made that time of waiting horrible. Impatience 
to know my fate rose into torture. The moonshine burnt in 
little stars among the leaves ; I guessed by the altitude of the 
planet that it might be about one o'clock in the morning, and 
I believe I was right when I recall the length of time that 
passed after I awoke to consciousness before the green of the 
dawn showed in the sky. In those dreadful hours of waiting 
for sunlight I thought over the murderous ruse which had 
betrayed me into the island for this. It was very plain now 
that Fletcher and Cadman knew I had overheard their con- 
versation. How would the villain account for me ? I might 
be sure he had gone down to the boat with a made-up face of 
horror and sworn I had fallen over the cliff. They'd not stop 
to look for me, if only because the two seamen would know 
they could do nothing with the leaky old jolly-boat in the 
heavy swell that beat where I had fallen. Had Fletcher seen 
me disappear in this bush ? Anyway he'd consider me as 
good as dead, and carry that notion on board the brig to his 
hellish colleague. I had their secret and so was to be made 
away with ! As God's my hope I had never thought it of 

Dawn broke at last after such an eternity of mental and 
physical anguish as there is no magic in this poor pen to 
express. The light grew quickly, and now I was able to 
think and perhaps act. I found I was in the midst of a dense 
mass of bush. My weight had carried me almost sheer 
through it ; I judged there was not above the thickness of a 
foot betwixt me and the open. The plunge of my body had 
rent the topmost part into a sort of tunnel, but the surface 
stuff had come together, and I saw nothing. 

My first business was to make sure I had strength enough 
to hold on with, next that the growth was strong enough to 
support me if I should require to hang by it. My tests satis- 
fied me ; taking a firm grip of a heap of the withe-like 
branches and twigs, I straightened my legs and made a hole 
through the stuff' with one foot. I was now able to see, and 
sailor as I was, used to reeling spars and to holding on with 
my eyelids, I confess my brain spun in my aching skull when 
I looked. A sixty foot height of wall-like cliff is no very 


terrible thing to gaze up at, but i^ttr dawn over the edge of it ! 
The surf was rolling in big masses of snow at the bottom ; I 
could just see through the opening a small expanse of the 
sheet-calm ocean flowing like blue oil full of light to the very 
curve of the foaming breaker. 

But I had not been staring long, with my heart beating hard 
in my ears and imagination working like a madness in me in 
its struggles to figure schemes of release, when I took notice 
of a growth like to that in which I lay nested about thirty 
feet down, and in a straight line. The face of the cliff 
between was smooth and sheer, but just past that lower heap 
of bush it stood broken in projections. If I could manage 
to drop upon one of those rocky ledges I should be able to 
crawl round to where the island fell into a gradual slope, 
easily climbed. But how was I to fall thirty feet without 
dashing out my brains and bounding on to the full distance of 
sixty, vanishing in the surf a mangled corpse, to be torn to 
shreds in an hour or two by the wild play there ? 

As I thus reflected it occurred to me to drop out of the bush 
in which I lay into the stuff on a line below. It was my one 
chance. There were thirty or forty feet of unclimbable rock 
above me ; therefore I had to determine either to take my 
chance of dropping into the lower bush or missing it, or 
remain where I was and miserably perish. 

I durst not consider ; deliberation might prove fatal by hin- 
dering me ; carefully taking the bearings of the sponge-like 
mass, I wriggled and worked downward, holding the long 
twigs and stuff with the grip of a drowning man. In Ave or 
six minutes — the time ran into thaty for this job of extrication 
was horribly difficult and dangerous — I was hanging clear, but 
scarcely was I thus poised, asking God to direct my fall, with 
the thunder of the surf sounding with startling loudness now 
that my ears were clear, when the stuff I grasped gave way, 
and down I went like a lightning stroke, plunging sheer into 
the very heart of the growth. 

I kept my senses, but I believed that my eyes had been torn 
out of my head, and the skin off my face, and that I had lost 
my ears, so lacerating was that plunge, so crunching and rend- 
ing the shock. I rested motionless to breathe, in the posture 
in which I had arrived, straight up and down, feet first. The 
growth here was stronger than that above, the twigs thicker ; 
this hanging tract of vegetation was about twice the size of 
the other. Where the roots found soil and whence they drew 
nutriment I don't know ; the cliff' seemed all hard rock, but 
in this I was doubtless mistaken. 


I now considered myself comparatively safe ; my heart beat 
full of rejoicing, and my old strength came back to me. I 
tried my eyes and found all right with them, then with some 
difficulty felt my face and ears and brought my hands away 
smeared with blood ; but I suspected that my wounds were 
neither deep nor serious. I had come ashore in a camlet 
jacket and a sailor's check shirt ; these garments hung in rags 
upon me, and my white drill trousers were, covered with 

When I had thoroughly taken breath and rested I exerted 
my whole strength to make an opening in the interlacery of 
green stuff facing that part of the rocks I desired to gain, and 
judge of my delight on perceiving a wide ledge within an easy 
drop, and other ledges trending away in a broken front round 
to where the hill shelved gradually. Using all my force, I 
broke my way through the twigs and branches, leaving the 
remains of my jacket and a goodly portion of my shirt behind 
me. Then, letting myself down, I dropped cleverly on to the 
ledge that was about four feet under foot as I hung. 

In another quarter of an hour I had crawled to where the 
slope began. 



Some scarlet, thunder-swollen clouds were hanging low in 
the north, and the oil-like surface lay bronzed under them ; 
otherwise the sky was as clear as glass from line to line. I 
tore the sleeve off my shirt to make a cover for my head ; my 
clothing now consisted of little more than my vest and trou- 
sers, but these sufficed. Man wants but little in the shape of 
apparel down the Salvages way. 

I looked up at the height over which I had been thrust, and 
my heart turned hot with rage. Would it ever be in my power 
to punish the treacherous scoundrel ? How sly and deliberate 
the dog had been, feigning to admire the view, then courting 
me to the brink — O Heaven, I could not have used a rat so ! 
I guessed that my face was looking black with blood while I 
sat with my fists clenched thinking of Mr. Fletcher of Bristol. 

When 1 was rested I climbed up the slope and easily reached 
the top of the island. I walked to the place where Fletcher 
had thrust me over, and looked for the shovel I then held, and 
not finding it, concluded that it had been hurled into the sea 
when I fell. My deep, imperative need now was fresh water, 


and I spent till noon in hunting, thinking of nothing else, 
spitting the white froth from my lips as I walked, and feeling 
n<3arly suffocated. At about midday, as I guessed the hour 
was by the sun, having descended a spur of hill in the north- 
east point of the island, I caught the sweet music of the 
bubbling of a brook, and in a minute later I was kneeling 
beside a little crystal spring gushing from under a rock, and 
chattering along in a channel of its own through obscuring 
tracts of barilla to the margin of the cliff, where it spread and 
disappeared. I drank deeply, and then collecting the water 
in the hollow of my hands I repeatedly bathed my face and 

Now being deliciously refreshed, my thirst gone, my face 
and head cool, the pleasant chill of snow sinking into my very 
marrow out of the icy coldness of that water in my hands, I 
felt hungry and looked about me somewhat desperately. Rab- 
bits in plenty were frisking shadowily among the vegetation, 
and big sea birds were to be had at the cost of knocking them 
over. But I was not yet so sharp set as to eat raw things, 
and how to get fire ? I plunged my hands into my breeches 
pockets in a fit of musing and pulled out a little burning glass 
which I carried for lighting my pipe by the sun, fire being as 
scarce as news on board ship, where the lucifer match is rarely 
found, and where the galley furnace is not always at your 

While I held the burning glass, looking about me for stuff 
that would burn, I spied a rabbit within a dozen feet ; I 
stooped very warily, picked up a large piece of stone or rock, 
and took aim with so much dexterity that I knocked the poor 
brute over. It was alive when I picked it up, so I cut his 
throat with my little penknife and skinned it. 

While I was at this dirty work I looked round the sea ; 
nothing was in sight. Indeed nothing, if it were not steam, 
was to be expected. The calm was profound. The silence of 
the now blazing day lay in a fiery hush upon the ocean ; the 
bronzed and thunderous stuff in the north was gone, and the 
blinding white dazzle about the sun sloped with a coloring of 
azure in its silver to the light tropic blue over the horizon, the 
whole cloudless. 

I found plenty of dry stuff among rotten parts of the salt- 
wort tracts, and easily kindled a fire, leaving a hollow in the 
ring of flame for my rabbit to bake in. It was but a red and 
black repast, that — a nasty cannibal compound of cinders and 
gushing flesh, yet it made me a meal and satisfied my crav- 
ings. Enough was left to serve me for a supper by and by, 


and hiding the remains near the spring that the birds might 
not rob me, I made my way to the east beach, a wide tract of 
sand betwixt two horns of rock. Here I found shade for my 
aching head, and I sat down under a huge oversheltering 
ledge of cliff to think over my situation, and how I was to 
escape from this lonely island. 

It was then that a vision of Blathford rose before me ; I saw 
the water spouting from the old stone dog's head ; I saw the 
church and the parsonage, the silent trees, and the long, 
fragrant shadows in the garden at sunset. I saw Kate Darn- 
ley bending over a flower bed, and my father standing at the 
dark, gleaming window of the parlor, and I heard my mother 
calling me. Did I fall asleep and dream this ? 

When a boy I'd think there could be no happiness to equal 
the being alone on a desolate island ; I was now in that bliss- 
ful state, and my heart sank in me as I thought of it. How 
was I to get away ? Was this spot of rock ever visited ? I 
tried to remember what I had read about it in an admiralty 
dispatch addressed as I now know by Admiral, then Captain 
Hercules Robinson, to some official big-wig, but could recol- 
lect no more than that the island abounded in cormorants and 
rabbits, which I found true, and that both the Great and the 
Little Salvages are surrounded by perilous shoals. Ships 
might sight this rock, but would seldom haul in close enough 
east or west of it to distinguish a signal, even of smoke. I 
might be forced to spend weeks here, and then be found mad 
— a gaunt, naked specter, all beard and ribs, like that frightful 
Peter Serrano in the old, true sea story. 

This imagination sent me crazy for a time, and I started up 
and walked about in a state of distraction. 

It was smooth water here ; the breakers were little more than 
big ripples rolling with summer softness, and expiring with long 
seething sounds which ran like heavy sighs betwixt the points. 
The small undulation was westerly. The swell was on the 
other side, therefore, and the dulled roar of it was like the 
thunder of an engagement between line-of -battle ships miles 

I calmed myself after awhile, for I was young in those days 
and hope had a strong hold of my soul. I have had a narrow 
escape, I thought. I am not dead yet. I must keep myself 
alive and pray to God to deliver me. To occupy my mind I went 
to work to collect crabs and shellfish for eating, and soon had 
store enough for a supper that would be better than a nearly 
raw rabbit. Before sundown I sought a sheltered corner for a 
resting place, and discovered a little cave in the rocks about 



ten feet deep, far above high water mark. But there wa^ noth- 
ing to furnish me with the smallest convenience, though I had 
looked narrowly about while searching for shellfish and the 
like : not a fragment of wreck — not a stave of cask — nothing. 
So, wanting a drinking vessel, I invented one by taking the 
biggest of the crabs and scooping his shell clear of him. With 
this I climbed the cliffs for a drink. I don't know what i 
should have done without my penknife. It was in my trou- 
sers pocket by rare good fortune, brought about through my 
emptying my waistcoat pockets. I had bought it for a shilling 
at Bristol and still have it. 

I drank deeply of the spring, and then returned to the beach, 
fearful of attempting the descent after sundown. The sun set 
directly abreast of the bay, and never before had I beheld such 
magnificence of light in the sky. The heavens were a uni- 
versal blaze of crimson ; the smooth sea reflected the splendor 
and added fresh glory to the sublime and appalling radiance it 
mirrored. Before the light died out I ate a small quantity of 
shellfish. They were a sort of limpet, and relished like oysters. 
Not just yet could I bring myself to eat raw crab, and now the 
sun was gone my burning glass was useless. 

The sand was soft and dry in the little cave I had chosen as 
a bedroom, and when I lay down I immediately fell asleep. A 
horrible nightmare awoke me : the vision of a wrestle for life 
with Fletcher on the edge of a cliff as high as the Peak of 
Teneriffe ! I started up, and in the sheen of the moonlight, 
which hung like a silver veil before the opening of the cave, I 
spied the sand I had slept on alive with a score or more 
of crabs. They were big and little, and some were land 
crabs, I think. They scuttled away when I got up and dis- 

I went out and walked about the beach for the coolness of 
the night and to look about me. A pleasant wind was whis- 
tling over the sea, which was shivering in a wide breast of fiaked 
silver under the bright moon. The surf poured strongly on 
the sands, though the wind was north with something of east 
in it and this side sheltered ; from the eastern board the boom 
of the breakers came along in notes heavy and melancholy, and 
they were solemn with the power of the deep. Many small white 
clouds scudded across the stars ; the life of a six knot wind 
was in the scene of moonlit ocean, and more briskness still 
went to it out of the ivory brilliance of the rolling lines of foam 
upon the sand. I stood intently staring seaward, thinking to 
see a ship^but beholding nothing, I went back to my cave, from 
which all the cr^bs h^d departed; this time, however, I planted 


my back against the rocks and slept with my head bowed upon 
my folded arms. 

I was awakened by a sound of singing ; it was a man's voice, 
strong, hearty, and coarse. My senses came to me with the 
opening of my eyes ; I sprang to my feet, and running out of 
the cave saw a man walking along the sands toward the north- 
east point. It was broad daylight ; the sun was shining behind 
the island ; the breeze was still fresh, and the ocean streamed 
northward in little seas, flashing with the light of the foam 
they 'melted into. 

When I saw the man I shouted. He was singing so loudly 
and the surf was so noisy besides that he did not hear me. I 
shouted again, on which he turned with astonishing swiftness 
and stood still, beholding me in a posture of wonder and fear, 
as though I had been some bleeding corpse on end in the 

He was an extraordinary figure of a man, dressed in a blue 
cap, a red shawl round his throat, a dirty white shirt over 
which was a jacket with treble rows of pearl buttons ; his 
breeches were a sort of dungaree, very tight, cut short midway 
down the calves, which were bandaged as though wounded ; 
he was shod to a little above his ankles with yellow boots. 
Through a stout belt over his hips were thrust on one side a 
small bright hatchet, on the other a long dagger-hafted knife, 
buried in a leather sheath attached to the belt. His face was 
as ugly as his attire was queer ; his complexion as yellow as 
gold, enriched with patches like verdigris about the brow, 
cheeks, and nose ; his eyes were deep-set, and he squinted most 
abominably. His nose was of the bigness of a man's little 
finger, and after descending straight it started at the extremity 
into a gouty knob, pierced by two lifting holes full of hair ; 
under this strange device he carried an enormous mustache, 
coarse as a horse's tail, mingling on the cheeks with a pair of 
frill-shaped whiskers which, wide as they spread, still left 
exposed his huge oyster shells of ears. 

I stared at this amazing figure for some moments, too much 
astonished by his appearance to speak. He now approached 
me slowly ; when he moved I called out, " Do you speak Eng- 
lish ? " He shook his head with frightful energy and con- 
tinued to approach until he was quite close, and then stood 
stock-still again, looking at me from head to foot. Ugly as he 
was I seemed then to find in his face as reassuring an expres- 
sion of kindness and, I may say, tenderness as nature's utmost 
effort could inform such features with. Nor, indeed, ought I 
tQ bav^ wowd^recl th^^t h^ stared at me ; it was not my sudden 


apparition only ; I have little doubt I presented a dreadful 
shape with my scratched face, head bound up with a shirt 
sleeve, bloody trousers and vest, to which you may add a few 
rags of shirt. 

He addressed me in thick accents in a language utterly 
unintelligible ; seeing that I did not understand him, he 
touched his stomach and then his mouth, and made a show of 
drinking, all with his poor ugly face full of feeling and kind- 
ness. I knew what he meant, and nodded my head. Indeed 
I was both hungry and thirsty. He looked at me from top to 
toe again, then along the length of sand as though for some 
sign of a wreck, and with a beckoning gesture of his chocolate- 
colored hand, hairy as Esau's, he led the way up the craggy 
face of the cliff. 

I supposed that he meant to conduct me to the spring and 
point to the rabbits as we walked. Instead he crossed the 
island to the exact spot where Fletcher and I had arrived on 
gaining the top after quitting the jolly-boat; and from the 
height of the gentle acclivity, looking down, I perceived in 
the same creek in which the jolly-boat had lain a large two- 
masted craft of about fourteen tons, sharp as a knife at the 
bow, painted white, with a boy on his knees before a little 
stove in the bottom of her, whistling loudly while he plied 
a pair of bellows. All in silence, merely turning his head 
from time to time to see whether I followed, the ugly, queerly 
appareled man led the way to the water's edge. 

The boat lay with her nose on the sand. She was secured 
by a little anchor hooked to a rock. My heart leapt at the 
sight. The chimney was smoking bravely, the tawny boy 
was staring at us with the bellows motionless in his grasp, as 
though he had been blasted by lightning. The water was 
smooth' in this creek, but at sea the foam-lined ripples were 
streaming briskly. A length of red bunting attached to the 
tail of a little gilt cock flogged merrily at the mainmast head. 
But what I liked most was the smell of cooking. 

The man with the blue cap motioned to me to climb over 
the bow into the boat. I did so, and found myself aboard 
a broad-beamed, comfortable, finely lined, very seaworthy 
looking craft, with a short forecastle deck and white sails 
neatly stowed upon the yards along the thwarts. The boy, 
whose dress in some respects resembled the man's, and who 
was quite as ugly, with long, greasy black hair snaking down 
his back, and an immense mouth full of huge yellow teeth, 
continued to stare at me with many marks of alarm. On my 
getting into the boat he dropped his bellows and made the sign ; 


of the cross upon his breast, and let fly a yard of questions in 
the rapidest, shrillest voice conceivable. The man answered 
him. Many words passed between them. The boy, then 
keeping the stove between him and me, pronounced the word 
" Anglish ? " I nodded. " You Anglish ? " he exclaimed, 
again in the note of a scream. 

" I am English," I answered. " Do you speak Eng- 
lish ? " 

** Yash ; me speak Anglish," he shrieked. " Who you ? 
How you here ? " 

The other watched me intently, his fearful squint beaming 
with the soul of goodness, while the boy addressed me. 
I suspected that the lad's knowledge of English would not 
permit him to understand much of my story, so I said I had 
come ashore in a boat from a ship, and that in approaching 
the edge of the cliff I had fallen over, and I pointed and 
dramatized and acted the short yarn, indicating the cliff, then 
the bushes, then making as though I fell, then touching the 
bloodstains upon my clothes, and so on, afterward by speech 
and gesture contriving to make the lad understand that my 
people, thinking me dead, had gone away. 

Both the boy and the man, as I discoursed and dramatically 
swung my arms, nodded their heads with a like impassioned, 
demonstrative vehemence. I perceived that I was under- 
stood. Indeed my appearance and the state of my clothes 
told a very full story when the first hint of it had been given. 
Nodding again and again with his hideous squinting counte- 
nance full of wild, rough sympathy, the man entered his fore 
peak and immediately crawled out with a tin measure and 
a large jar. The draught was half a pint of crude Madeira 
wine. I made him understand that I wished for water to mix 
it with, and then I drank, bowing and smiling, first to him and 
then to the boy, before draining the measure. 

" From Madeira ? " said I, looking expressively at the lad 
and then at the boat. 

The youth nodded. 

" Barilla? " said I, pointing to the top of the island. 

The man grunted an affirmative, understanding the term. 

" Portuguese ? " 

They bobbed their heads with immense energy, and then, a 
patlse happening, the boy fell to whistling with piercing clear- 
ness, while he kicked the bellows away with a yellow naked foot 
and dropped a large flat-fish into a frying pan which he set 
upon the fire. 

I was able to appreciate my escape now that I might con* 


sider myself delivered from the dreadful fate of imprisonment 
and madness and nakedness I had terrified my heart with not 
long before. I glanced at the island, at the height of cliff over 
which I had been flung, and my whole being was swelled with 
gratitude when I thought of the horrible dangers I had come 
safely through. 

While the boy fried the fish, which, seeing some fishing lines 
in the stern of the boat, I supposed he had caught since sun- 
rise, the man prepared one of the thwarts for breakfast by pro- 
ducing some tin plates and knives and forks, a loaf of bread, 
and a quantity of grapes. He also set the jar of wine under 
the thwart. When the fish were cooked the man helped me to 
a whole one and a thick slice of bread, and gave me a panni- 
kin of wine and water. I looked my thanks, and held him by 
the hand and bowed, that he might understand my gratitude. 
He laughed and shook his head, and spoke a sentence or two 
in Portuguese, which set the boy grinning, while he cried, 
" Eat ! All Anglish good." 

I never made a meal which I enjoyed more thoroughly, nor 
swallowed food that seemed to do me half so much good. The 
sun was not yet above the island, and the boat lay in the 
shadow of the cliffs. The wind gushed freely over the arm of 
reef, trembling the water of the creek into diamonds, and 
deliciously cooling the shade cast by the island. My mind 
worked nimbly while I ate. Would this worthy Portuguese 
convey me to Madeira ? I did not doubt it, since I knew he 
hailed from that island. And what should I do when I got 
there ? I was rendered as miserable a beggar by Cadman's 
and Fletcher's murderous conspiracy as the dirtiest, most 
grievously stricken wretch that whines for alms on Funchal 
beach. All my clothes, a considerable sum in money, my 
nautical instruments — property, in short, which I could not 
have replaced under two hundred pounds, apart from the 
sentimental value of certain keepsakes and choice home 
gifts — were in my chest aboard the Hebe^ and I might reckon 
upon every farthing's worth going to the bottom. Yes, I had 
no shadow of a doubt that the villains would wreck the brig 
somewhere off the Cape Settlement as Cadman had proposed 
or decided. 

Now was I bitterly vexed that I had not communicated with 
the carpenter. The crew, as things stood, never would imagine 
I had been foully dealt with. Then, again, when the brig 
should have been rast away they'd never know she was delib- 
erately wrecked, unless, indeed, Cadman's method of going to 
WPrk rpused suspicion, AU these things ran in my head while 


I was eating the grapes and fish and bread with the Portuguese 
and his boy. 

I endeavored to make some of my thoughts understood to 
them, and partly succeeded with the help of gestures and the 
boy's small knowledge of my tongue. The man nodded when 
he understood I wished to learn if he would convey me to 
Madeira. I also gathered that he was likely to remain at this 
island for four or five days, and that if meanwhile a ship hove 
in sight and he could get at her he'd put me aboard if I 

To this I assented gratefully ; it was all one to me whether 
I was landed at Madeira, whence I supposed the British consul 
would send me to England as a distressed seaman, or whether 
I was transferred to a ship making for another port. Indeed 
my inclination leaned to the latter. Being stripped, I wanted 
clothes. If I was sent home I must burden my people till I 
got employment. I had found it hard to obtain a post, I might 
again find it hard ; if I should have the luck to procure a 
mate's berth I'd need a round sum to equip me. My father 
could not afford a penny. It must come to my having to sail 
before. the mast. Why not, then, ship down here in these seas, 
if I could meet with a vessel willing to receive me, and hold on 
as a foremast hand until on my return home there would be 
wages enough to take up to help me to a fresh start ? 



The Portuguese and his son — as I guessed the lad to be by 
his face (barring the squint) looking like a copy of the other's 
reflected in the back of a polished silver spoon — ^the two, I say, 
made a vast meal, the elder drinking abundantly of the wine. 

When we had breakfasted I expressed by signs and speech 
my willingness to assist them in cutting the saltwort ; the man 
nodded pleasantly, and muttered a thank you in Portuguese, 
but showed no disposition to leave the boat. On the contrary, 
when he had breakfasted he crawled into his little fore peak and 
brought out a jar of tobacco and made two large paper cigars, 
one of which he handed to me. Next, after looking at me with 
attention, he again crawled into his little forecastle and emerged 
with a large, flapping, well-worn straw hat, which he put upon 
my head, grinning and talking in his native tongue. Then he 
lighted a piece of wood at the stove and gave it to me with all 
the grace you could imagine ; he afterward seated himself in 


an indolent posture with his back against the mast and his 
feet upon a thwart, and blew a cloud with great relish and 
enjoyment, his eyes sometimes lazily fixed on me, sometimes 
peering through half-closed lids at the rocks. 

His son, on the other hand, stripped himself and jumped 
overboard, and after wading to his armpits lay afloat on his 
back buoyant as a cork. All this was true Portuguese fashion — 
genuine Dago style, and characteristic of a race by whom a 
turn round the longboat and a pull at the scuttle butt is 
reckoned a good day's work. 

I judged that if they meant to load barilla at this rate they'd 
need all the four or five days the man had talked of, though a 
couple of English would have been away, loaded to the wash 
streak, and the island perhaps out of sight in the south by 

I was too anxious and troubled in my mind to sit and smoke, 
and twice climbed the slope to view the sea before the Portu- 
guese seemed ready to turn to. Nothing was in sight. On 
my return from the second visit to the top the Portuguese 
sprang to his feet with the energy of sudden fury, and roared 
out to his son, who was cutting capers in the sea some distance 
beyond the mouth of the creek. The boy came swimming 
alongside as though driven by steam, jumped into the bows, 
and dressed himself streaming wet. The Portuguese then 
pointing to his chopper, which lay on a thwart, signed to know 
if I would accompany him ; I nodded eagerly, being wishful 
indeed to make the best return in my power for his humanity, 
and Christian, merciful treatment of me. Upon this he fetched 
a couple of sacks and a second chopper out of the fore peak, 
and after speaking to his son a while he put that chopper and 
a sack into my hands, and leaping on to the sand invited me 
with a motion of his head to follow. 

We gained the top and went to work to cut barilla. I had 
supposed we should speedily crowd the two sacks, but I soon 
found that the Portuguese was exceedingly choice in his 
selection of the plant, so that after three hours, not so much 
of toil as of careful search and judicious cutting, we had 
scarcely filled each man the half of his own bag. At this rate 
the job of loading the boat was likely to last us a week instead 
of four days, nor would it need*many paper cigars and indo- 
lent after-breakfast musings to run that week into a fortnight. 

The man killed a couple of rabbits and flung them down 
the slope for the boy to fetch. When we returned, somewhere 
about one as I guessed by the sun, those rabbits were seething 
in a saucepan full of broth, on which, and some fish, grapes. 


bread, and Madeira wine, we dined magnificently. In the 
afternoon we went again for more barilla, and spent two hours 
in cutting the plant. 

After supper I sat in the boat smoking a paper cigar, and 
endeavoring to converse with the Portuguese with the help of 
his boy. It was about six o'clock 'in the evening. The sun 
was out of sight behind the island, but he was yet many 
degrees above the horizon, and his light flashed out the whole 
scene of ocean in the south and east till even from the low 
level of the boat's gunwale the horizon there looked seventy 
miles distant. The breeze had died in the middle of the day, 
and all had been breathless calm and roasting heat till about 
five, when a little air of wind sprang up out of the northeast ; 
the brushing of it darkened the blue, but there was no weight 
in that draught to make the foam spit. 

The creek in which the boat floated lay open to the south ; 
a good stretch of water in the east was likewise visible to us ; 
westward the view was blocked by the fall of the land to an 
arm of reef which ran about two cables' lengths into the sea. 
The silence upon the island was broken only by the noises of 
the sea fowl flying over our heads, and by the rolling roar of 
the surf along the west side. 

I was gradually making out through the broken, stammer- 
ing, scarcely intelligible English of the boy, and the dramatic 
gestures and grotesque grimaces of the man, that this Great 
Salvage rock was visited at long intervals only by the Madeira 
cutters of barilla, so that I was particularly to witness the 
hand of God in the coming of this boat a few hours after my 
own murderous betrayal into this scene of desolation, when, 
my eye then resting on the horizon in the southeast, I spied a 
ship's canvas glowing like yellow satin, or rather like a large 
orange-hued star that enlarges as it soars. 

I started up to gaze from the elevation of the thwart. The 
Portuguese looked too, and the boy, pointing, cried out : 
" Ship ! Ship ! " 

The wind was scanty and the vessel's progress so slow that I 
could not guess which way she was headed ; so to help my vi- 
sion I climbed to the top of the island, and there I saw her plain 
enough, perhaps down to her hull, though the water she floated 
on was as far off as the horizon itself. I yearned for a tele- 
scope to determine her by ; if she was steering our way the 
Portuguese might be willing to put me aboard. I cared not 
what her nationality should proye. I was heartsick of this 
island, and my very spirits shrunk from the prospect of cutting 
saltwort on the scorching top of the land for perhaps another 


week, and then of my arriving at Madeira in rags, to be sent 
home as a beggar, and stepping ashore in the Thames or an 
out port without a cent in my pocket or a coat on my back. 

I went down to the boat again and got the Portuguese to 
understand that I'd be thankful if he'd put me aboard tHat 
vessel if she was hauling in this way. He answered through 
his son and in his own fashion that he would stand out to her 
if she grew, on which I grasped him by the hand, and first 
pointing to the island, then to my clothes, then significantly 
pulling my empty right-hand breeches pocket inside out, 
I made him perceive how acutely I felt my situation. He 
talked quickly to his son, often turning looks of sympathy 
and pity upon me. 

Presently the boy ran up the slope to the top of the land 
with the ease of a goat, and after viewing the distant 
sail betwixt his dark hands shouted. The father fetched his 
breast a thump in token of satisfaction, and made a gesture 
with a sweep of his thumb from the ship to the island. So 
she was heading our way if the boy's eyes did not deceive 
him ! and again I sprang on to a thwart to look at her. Yes, 
her motion could no longer be mistaken ; she was on the star- 
board tack crawling on a taut bowline into the north and 
west, clearly outward bound and waiting for this island to get 
large before putting her helm down. 

It was about seven o'clock ; I judged of my time by the 
passing of the sun, and would have bet upon it within ten 
minutes. The sky was wild with crimson overhead, and in 
the east the glory of the west was " reverberated," to use 
Shelley's expression, by a terrace of bright yellow cloud whose 
effulgence filled the water under it with a hot brassy luster, 
while a glory of its own sifted upward toward the scarlet of 
the sunset. 

The Portuguese went into the stern sheets of his boat and 
stared at the distant sail, then slowly looking about him and 
above as though taking measure of his chances of fetching 
her, he shouted to his son, who was still on top of the land. 
The boy came running down. The father roared out again, 
whereupon the lad lifted the little anchor off the rock it was 
hooked to and brought it on his shoulder into the bow of the 
boat. Both got out and shoved the boat's nose off, jumping 
in as she floated. In a few minutes they had an oar ovec ; 
then loosing the neatly stowed sails, they manned the halyards 
and mastheaded the long lateen-like yards. 

No sooner was the boat clear of the land than, catching the 
soft warm breathing of air in her canvas, she slightly leaned 


and drove over the calm blue water, shredding it as a plow- 
share shears through soil, with two soft feather-white lines of 
foam in her wake. It was the most exquisite sensation of 
swift and buoyant sailing I had ever experienced. Her hull 
was white, and her spacious wings were cotton white, and she 
must have looked to the ship as we went toward her like 
a star-like gyration of wind-whipped froth. 

The vessel was about seven miles distant from us when we 
started. She was heading our way, and we were skimming 
over it at five or six, so that it was not long before we had lifted 
her into determinable proportions, and there floated right 
ahead of us, stiff as a church under the light breeze, a black 
bark of some four hundred tons with a stump fore topgal- 
lant mast and a white boat dangling at her starboard davits. 
She made a fine cloud-like picture, all her canvas swollen and 
stirless, and the red light in the west dying out upon her top- 
most sails, which showed like bronze shields against the dark 
blue beyond her. 

Over the terrace of clouds in the east the blue lightnings 
were running in wire-like rills ; the island stood sharp, hard, 
and dark against the color in the west. It had drawn around 
somewhat dark, with a deal of cloudy fire in the water, before 
we were within hail of the bark ; the lunar dawn was grow- 
ing green astern of the ship, and the stars sparkled overhead. 
The Portuguese put his helm down, the boy let go the main 
halyards, and the little white clipper hung without way in 
the direct course of the bark. Taking my chance of the 
vessel's nationality, I bawled with powerful lungs through my 
telescoped hands, " Ho, the bark ahoy ! " 

Greatly to my delight the familiar English echo " Hollo! " 
came back. 

" I'm an English seaman who has been cast away on the 
Great Salvage yonder. Will you take me on board ? " 

" Douse your foresail and look out for the end of a line," 
was the reply. 

I let go the fore halyards ; it was too dark for gesticulations 
to serve ; the Portuguese grunted aloud in his native tongue, 
but in a tone that was like telling me I had done right. The 
bark now loomed big close aboard us, and all was hushed 
for some moments save the rippling of the water at her bow. 
The stars winked amid her rigging and along her yards ; the 
risen moon was now shedding some light, by which I dis- 
tinguished a group of figures leaning over the forecastle rail, 
and a man sitting on the port poop rail holding on to a stay, 
and leaning backward over the water to view us. 


" Look out for this line," shouted a voice from the forecastle 
head, and plump came some forty pound weight of fakes into 
the middle of the boat. The boy took a turn, but it had never 
been my intention to parley alongside. I was most devour, 
ingly in earnest to board that bark and sail away in her 
anyhow and anywhere ; so, springing aft, I grasped the hairy 
paw of the Portuguese, motioning to the main chains, and 
gently obliging him to sheer the boat; then wringing his hand in 
a very passion of gratitude, and hitting the boy a friendly blow 
of farewell on the back, I sprung into the bark's chains, and 
as I climbed over the rail I saw the boy free the boat, while 
the Portuguese sprawled forward to masthead the foresail. 

" By *Esus, dot vhas a cool handt ! Did he know dot her 
boat vhas all gone?" called some heavy Dutch voice out of 
the shadowy group of seamen in the bows. 

I stood a moment after gaining the deck to look along 
it. The gloom of the night was betwixt the vessel's rails, 
but some ruddy gleams darting like wheel spokes through the 
galley door touched the coils of rigging and bulwarks abreast; 
there was a hazy sheen of radiance aft round about the 
skylight. By the small, delicate moonlight now flowing I 
made this bark out to be a lump of a square-bowed wagon, 
with a crowded look about her decks, owing to her galley, 
longboat, pumps, mainmast, and foremast all seeming to come 
together in a sort of murky huddle, as though everything was 
too big. I saw the figure of a man aft. It was he who had 
leaned backward looking at us. He was advancing as I 
approached him. 

" What d'ye want aboard here ? " said he. " Hail your boat 
and keep her alongside till I hear your story, anyhow." 

** They're Portuguese and won't understand us unless we 
talk in their tongue, which I, for one, don't know," I answered. 

The man seemed struck by my speech and manner. We 
were near the skylight, within the sphere of the sheen of it, 
and I saw his eyes travel over me. 

** What are you ? " said he. 

" Am I talking to the master of this ship ? " 

" Yes." 

" I was mate of the brig Hebe of Bristol. One day I over- 
heard her owner and the captain arranging to cast her away, 
one choosing that rock," said I, pointing to the island, " and 
the other the coast near Agulhas. They were in their cabin ; 
as I came out of mine the owner met me face to face, turned 
white as these bloody breeches upon me, but said nothing, 
and I guessed by the behavior of both men that neither sus- 


pected I had overheard them. I vow to God that the day before 
yesterday the owner of the brig took me ashore on that island 
under the pretense of seeking a spring for his water casks. 
He coaxed me to the edge of the cliff and threw me over — 
the villain! Mr. Fletcher of Bristol — that's his name. Jonas 
Cadman is the Hebe's master. They sailed away, leaving me 
murdered, as they thought. They've got all that I possess in 
the world aboard, and the dogs '11 wreck the brig yet, and 
maybe drown the crew, mark me." 

My companion listened with motionless attention. 

" Fletcher of Bristol,** said he. " He's owned some small 
craft besides this Hebe^ hasn't he ? " 

" I dare say. I know nothing of the devil's history." And 
now, moving a step to get a better view of this man, and 
advancing my head to inspect him closely, I said, " Pardon 
me — is your name Blades ? " 

" Yes," he answered. 

" William Blades, who was formerly third mate of the New- 
castle ? " 

'* That's right." 

" I made my second voyage as an apprentice in that vessel. 
You and I were not only shipmates, but messmates." 

" Is it Charles Morgan ? " said he. 

"To the very rags of him." 

" Well, begummers ! " said Captain Blades, and shook my 
hand. He was stepping to the companionway, as though 
meaning I should follow him below ; then halted, and 
exclaimed, looking in the direction of the boat, that was now 
fast blending with the gloom, though she yet shone dimly in 
her whiteness like the weak reflection of a large pale star, " I 
shall be carrying you away round the Horn if you stop aboard. 
I am bound direct to Callao. Madeira isn't far off, and that 
boat would land you there, wouldn't she ?" 

I answered briefly that I wished to remain with him ; having 
lost all I did not mean to go home till I had earned money to 
take up ; I was willing to serve him in any capacity, forward 
or aft. 

" By the great anchor, then," said he, " you may turn out a 
Godsend, after all. Stay here. We'll yarn presently." He 
then roared out, " Mr. Brace, ready about ! " 

"Ready about ! " was echoed by some figure stalking in the 
gangway, and the whistle of a boatswain's pipe rang shrill 
through the vessel, followed by a bull-like roar of "All hands 
about ship." It delighted me to hear the music of that pipe 
aboard a bark of four hundred tons, but in those days the 


traditions of the sea were clung to with a tenacity which iron 
and steam have surprisingly relaxed. In a few moments the 
dark decks were full of life and hurry ; the shapes of the sea- 
men, scarcely distinguishable in the gloom, took their stations. 

" Helm's a-lee ! " bawled the captain. 

" Helm's a-lee ! " was re-echoed from the forecastle. 

Then rang the several orders of ** Raise tacks and sheets — 
main topsail haul — let go and haul," and so on. The black 
block of island swang along on to our port quarter. The 
whole life of the ocean was in the hoarse strange cries of the 
men, and in the shouts of the captain and Mr. Brace. 

" Well the fore topsail yard — small pull the main t'gallant 
yard — royal yard too much — well ail! " 

Presently the ship was soberly dribbling through it on the 
port tack. The captain, after speaking apart to the man 
whom he called Brace, took me below into the cabin. 

It was like the Hebe^Sy the arrangement of the berths much 
the same, and everything plain to rudeness. A large parrot 
restlessly clawed the brass wires of its cage that swung under 
the open skylight near the lamp. When we entered Blades 
called out " Jackson," and a stout young fellow came out of 
the pantry. 

" Some supper for this gentleman," said the captain ; " then 
turn to and get the mate's berth ready for him. You've left 
your portmanteau on the Great Salvage, I expect ? " he added, 
grinning, as he turned his eyes upon me. " When the berth's 
ready, Jackson, get some slops up." 

Jackson stared at me when Blades called me gentleman, I 
turned to the captain and said, " I've not had sight of a look- 
ing-glass since Mr. Fletcher of Bristol took leave of me. 
How do I show, sir ? " 

Blades bade the steward fetch a looking-glass. I took it 
under the lamp and hardly knew myself. My beard was four 
days old ; my hair was frightfully wild and curled madly 
owing to my flight through two bushes ; my face was badly 
scratched. I looked like a drunken sailor released after a 
week of lock-up in the same state in which he had been found 
up a dark alley. 

" You'll not remember me, captain ? " said I, with a hang- 
dog grin, handing the glass to the steward. 

" Only by name," he ^answered. " But it'll not take you 
long to scrub and clothe yourself into my fond remembrance." 

I sat down at the table, he opposite, and told him everything 
as stands here related, all about Fletcher's piety, the four feet 
of water in the hold, the trick of the rum casks, and the rest 


of it. He listened with fixed eyes, deeply interested, as, 
indeed, any sailor was bound to be in such a tale, seeing what 
a hellish job those two men still had in hand, and how trag- 
ically the criminal conspiracy had been accentuated by the 
respectable Mr. Fletcher's heaval of me over a hundred feet 
of cliff. 

By the time I had made an end supper was ready, and I fell 
to with a keen appetite on a solid square of harness-cask beef 
and other shipboard delicacies, all like what the Hebe's table 
provided, only more of them, and very good of their kind. 
Blades ate with me, and our drink was cold brandy and 

This new character in my strange traverses was a fine 
handsome fellow, rising six feet tall, with tawny hair and 
reddish beard and mocking sea-blue eyes, brilliant as gems, 
full of character and spirit. He was an Orkney Islander, but 
had nothing of the rough accent of the people of those storm- 
vexed spots of earth. I looked at him and recalled many 
incidents of a voyage which sterner and wilder experiences 
had long sunk deep out of sight. He also looked at me, and 
often, in the intervals of our discourse, very musingly for so 
merry an eye. 

By and by, when we had supped, he jumped up, pulled out 
his watch, and said, " Go now and get the wash down you 
need, and sweeten yourself up with such togs as Jackson has 
got you. I'll be with you anon. I've something to talk to 
you about." 

He went on deck, and I heard his heavy footfall along the 
plank. Jackson had lighted up the cabin assigned me; I 
recollected that Blades had called it the mate's, and wondered 
if that officer had been broke and where he was. I had heard 
as yet of no mate in this bark ; the man who had whistled the 
crew to 'bout ship was Brace, and he was no mate. But all the 
news I needed would come to me from Blades, and without 
asking questions of Jackson I stripped and thoroughly washed, 
swept the wildness out of my hair with a strong brush, and 
clothed myself in a colored shirt, trousers of dungaree, and a 
shaggy pea jacket, all slop made, rank with the ready-made 
outfitting smell. 

After half an hour Blades came below. He put a handful 
of Manilla cheroots upon the table and brought a bottle of Hol- 
lands out of a locker. The weather was perfectly quiet, the 
vessel going along with never a creak coming out of her 
frame, and the lamp hanging as though from a ceiling ashore. 
Blades now told me that this bark was the Caroline ^ a trifle 



over four 'hundred tons, from Sunderland. to Callao with a 
small general cargo; she belonged to a Newcastle firm. He 
had sailed with a mate, and a boatswain acting as second mate. 
A few hundred miles north of Madeira the mate fell ill and 
kept his bed ; at his own request he was sent ashore at Madeira 
along with his traps. Blades sought for a certificated man to 
take his place ; as no one offered he got his anchor and 
started for his port of destination, resolved to carry the bark 
there watch and watch with George Brace, the boatswain. 

"That's how matters stand now," said he. "I'm no sea 
lawyer, and can't tell you whether I'm acting legally in pro- 
ceeding, under the circumstances, without a mate. What do 
you say ? " 

" Well, I believe no ship may lawfully start from her port 
without a mate. But if he falls sick and another's not to be 
got, what's to be done ? " 

" Why," he answered, breaking into his words with an occa- 
sional short laugh, "the only thing to do is to head for the 
Great Salvage Island, where fifty to one but you'll find some 
cast-away gentleman anxious to obtain a situation. A shirt 
isn't all front. It isn't always the thing itself that you seem 
to be looking at. Often a man's best chances get into the secret 
parts of his life, just as you find a sovereign in a pocket you 
forgot you dropped it into." 

He nodded over his poised glass at each wise saying, took a 
deep draught, and sucked his mustache. 

" B'lay your jaw ! Blast that talk ! " croaked a hideous 
voice overhead. 

" Bury your old nut and turn in ! " said Blades, looking up 
at the parrot. He then went on : 

" My mate being gone, another '11 make this voyage more com- 
fortable than I'll find it with Brace alone. I'm a nervous man " 
— here he stiffened his chest, that might have been some forty- 
three inches in girth ; " I like to have the law on my side. I 
want a mate. I ought to have a mate — I feel it. Well, the 
very thing I need crawls aboard out of the main chains after 
dark as if, by the blessed Jemima, my desire had been turned 
into flesh and blood to solve me a difficulty. In good Ork- 
ney Saxon, Morgan, will ye sign on as first of this gallant 
hooker ? " 

" I will, and with a thousand thanks," I replied, hot-faced 
with a sudden flush of delight. 

" Six pounds a month, the voyage to Callao and back to the 
Wear ! " 

I bowed in silent joy. 


" You're pleased and so am I," said Blades. " You'll be a 
changed man if you're wanting in smartness." 

" You'll find me wanting in nothing, not even in grati- 
tude," said I. 

" You'll have all night in to rest ye after the Salvage joke. 
Take till eight bells to-morrow morning to dream the old skunk 
Fletcher clean out of your skull, then turn to with a jolly 

An hour later I was sound asleep. 



It was a Friday morning, May i, 185 1. Our latitude on 
the preceding day had been 70** 15' S., our longitude 13^ 21' 
W. I do not exactly recollect how long I had served as mate 
aboard the Caroline when this date of May i came round. 
But I know that I was now heartily liking the ship. My life 
with Blades was more like a passenger's than a mate's ; he 
walked the decks with me, we yarned and smoked together, 
and galvanized a dead hour with cards or draughts. He lent 
me one of his sextants and made me free of his cabin. T could 
have gone on sailing round the world with such a man forever. 
Never in all the time I used the sea had I been happier. 

Old Brace, the boatswain, though a crabbed and sour tar- 
paulin, was one of the expertest seamen I had ever met. The 
salt beef of his calling had hardened into marrow in his bones ; 
he had worn out his teeth in biting ship's biscuit ; his joints 
creaked with rheumatism spite of the greasing of them by half 
a century of pork fat. He had been everything that a man 
can be at sea ; washed through the Channel in December in a 
barge loaded out of sight with stone, served in a man-of-war, 
sailed in American liners, traded in contraband walks in the 
South Pacific, had been a beach comber, 'longshoreman, whale- 
man, slaver cook in a West Indian drogher, and master of a 
little schooner out of Nassau. It was like reading a book of 
thrilling sea tales to talk with that man. I shall never forget 
his yarns, nor the time I spent in his company. 

The Jacks of the Caroline were good men, but then Blades 
was one of the few merchant skippers who have the art of being 
in perfect sympathy with their crew without sacrificing any- 
thing of their own quarter-deck dignity. I did my utmost to 


support his theories and carry out his views, and we were a 
happy, quiet, and comfortable ship. 

May I, 185 1. This was a Friday morning, and I came on 
deck at eight bells to relieve the boatswain, who had had the 
lookout since four. Blades was sauntering to and fro the 
quarter-deck in slippers and loose flannel jacket, and wide, 
petticoat-like drill trousers. The sun shone with a sharp 
tropic sting ; his wake was rolling in a long white flame over 
the soft heave of ocean to the very bends of the bark. It 
was mighty hot, with the heat besides tingling off the water 
where the dazzle of the soaring sun was, as though the 
spangled sea was the tremble of countless white-hot needles 
coming at you. 

We carried but a short awning, and in the shadow of it stood 
the man at the wheel. The breeze was light, hot as your 
breath, and out of the northwest. Brace had piled up the 
studding sails, but the bark's way was scarce perceptible, and 
the tail of her greasy wake was not a pistol shot off. 

The first thing I saw when I came on deck was the three 
white spires of a vessel, hull out of sight, away down on the 
lee bow. The sea line ran unbroken round the ocean to her ; 
there was a shading of cloud just above the gleam she made 
on the blue rim, and over our mastheads the sky was freckled 
with morning vapor ; a high, blue, bright morning, splendid 
for the sparkling azure space the eye found in it, but hot ! 
hot ! and the breeze a light air. 

" What have we there ? " says Blades, looking at the dis- 
tant sail, seemingly for the flrst time. 

I fetched the glass. 

" A small ship," says he, talking with his eye at the tele- 
scope ; " she's lying right athwart our hawse. Her yards seem 
queerly braced : the fore and mizzen square, and the main 
fore and aft. Look at her." 

I steadied the glass ; the three soft feathery heights shone 
in the lenses in symmetric spaces, and I perceived the yards 
braced in the manner described by Blades. The sails hovered 
like shreds of morning mist, and their whiteness was shot with 
airy gleams. The line of the vessel's rail was just visible above 
the edge of the sea, " dipping," as sailors call it — I mean com- 
ing and going with the light swaying of the bark. 

When I had seen her canvas there was nothing else to look 
at. I watched her a little, thinking she might be maneuver- 
ing; she hung in one posture with her head athwart our 
course, and I said to Blades, " If she's not derelict there's 
sickness aboard and she's helpless." 


" I believe you're right/' said he slowly when he had looked 

But now breakfast was announced. The captain went below 
to eat and left me to pace the deck alone. 

The Caroline was a flush-decked vessel, with a large 
windlass in her square bow, and a heavy littered look of deck. 
She had the scantling of a frigate ; everything was heavy and 
large. I stood beside the fellow at the wheel gazing forward ; 
smoke was streaming from the caboose chimney ; some of the 
watch below were scrubbing their clothes in the lee scuppers ; 
those of my own watch were at work about the vessel, one in 
the maintop, a couple in the fore shrouds. A fellow sat 
astride the fore yardarm doing something to the lift ; his loose 
white trousers and naked feet, his straw hat and mahogany 
face, with one bright eye in profile, and four inches of black 
beard curling like the edge of a saucer, stood out against the 
liquid sky as prismatically hued as a daguerreotype. Indeed 
the ocean light that morning gave a look of silky shifting color 
to everything. 

The bark made me think of the Hebe^ and I wondered what 
the bleared old fabric's reckoning would be at noon that d^y. 
Would Cadman and the other stick to their resolution to wreck 
her ? Wouldn't the conscience that must come of my murder 
fright them from the commission of other damnable things ? 
Alas ! conscience is a flower of slow cultivation, scarce likely 
to break its tender shoot through the dung crust of such minds 
as theirs. 

Now and again I looked at the distant ship as I stood or 
paced, musing. We were creeping southward ; she, with her 
yards braced anyhow, hung right athwart our road. Slowly 
we raised her, and by the time Blades came on deck she was 
showing a white line broken with painted ports. Now, too, I 
made out a color at her mizzen peak, red, but hanging up and 
down and indistinguishable. 

Piping hot it was that morning, and sweet was the sudden 
gushing through the heel of a windsail of a little freshening of 
the breeze on deck while I breakfasted. When I returned 
above I found the water darkened into violet by a pleasant 
breeze, with here and there an instant ivory wink of foam in the 
curls of brine ; from the bark's fat sides the flying fish were 
glancing in dozens, and we had a thin white line of water to 
leeward and a noise of purring water under the bows, with a 
universal tautening of brace and curving of leech and arching 
of foot; the jibs swelled with a yearning look forward ; it was 
like the cock of a dog's ears at the sight of another dog. The 


bark seemed to know there was a ship in sight. Gods, what 
life comes into a sailing ship with a little wind! It is the 
breath of her being, the soul of her strakes and treenails, and 
thus possessed she'll do everything but speak. 

We were within hailing distance of the vessel by eleven 
o'clock. Our helm was then put down and our main topsail 
brought to the mast, and there lay within easy reach of a man's 
voice a ship of something less than six hundred tons, with 
painted ports,* metaled to the bends with new sheathing, her 
figurehead some dark gold device, her quarters lustrous with 
gilt, but she had a desperately slack look, spite of her smart 
hull, with her outer and flying jibs hauled down and hanging 
loose, her three royals clewed up, but unstowed, her spanker 
half trailed in as though by insufficient hands, with other signs 
of helplessness which I'll not weary the shore-going reader 

Two men only were visible on her short length of poop, and 
one of them was at the wheel. I saw no signs of any living 
thing elsewhere. The galley chimney forked up black and 
unsmoking. In one deep pause before we hailed I heard 
a cock . crow and afterward the bleat of a sheep. We lay 
within a few ships* lengths of each other. The fellow at the 
stranger's helm was just such another plain seaman as stood 
at our wheel ; the other was dressed in a cloth coat and a 
wide straw hat. He stood watching us until we had ranged 
abreast. Then, with a glance aloft at the flag, which proved 
the English merchant ensign, jack down, he came to the low 
poop rail, got upon it, and stood with a hand at his ear. 

" Ship ahoy ! " cried Blades. 

" Hollo ! " 

** What ship's that ? " 

" The Earl of Leicester from Madras for the Thames. 
We're in great distress. Will you send one of your officers, as 
we're without men to man one of our boats ?" 

" What's wrong with you ? " Blades called. 

" Most of the crew are dead of the plague," the other cried ; 
then shook his head and flourished his arm, loudly shouting : 
" No, I don't mean the plague. It aint the plague, sir. It's 
a sort of sickness like fever. Some of them shipped with it, 
and gave it to the others." 

" Whatever it is it's long in killing, since it's lasted them 
all the way round to up here," said Blades, looking at me. 
" What's it you want ? " he bawled. 

" Help, sir," cried the other. 

" How many can you muster ? " 


The man pointed to the sailor at the wheel. 

" Too few as a ship's company for a vessel of that size," 
said Blades, rounding upon me with a bothered look. 
" Yonder's a sick ship, and to send men would mean to them 
the death that's emptied her hammocks. Yet to bring those 
two chaps aboard might signify a like beastly quandary for 
the good bark Caroline^ for who's to know how tainted they 
are ? " 

The man in the straw hat gazed at us from the top of the 
rail without motion. A hush fell. You heard nothing but 
the noise of water slopping alongside, the clinking of a chain 
sheet strained by a slight roll, and from the vessel abreast of 
us the crowing of a cock. In that pause I took another good 
look at the ship. To my nautical eye her appearance did not 
correspond with * the straw-hatted man's statement. She 
seemed too clean to be all the way from Madras, which meant 
a hundred days of ocean. Her rigging was well set up, her 
paint work fresh. I saw no growth of grass, no adhesion of 
shell upon the new sheathing she'd slightly lift. Though her 
short poop deck lay open betwixt the low rails, her bulwarks 
stood tall and hid her amidships to as far as the topgallant 
forecastle, which was railed like the poop. There was no 
motion in the sea to make her roll her main and quarter-decks 
into view. Three good white boats, whale-ended, hung at her 
davits. One boat, the fourth, was gone, and a long, light gig 
dangled at her stern. I also spied a big longboat abaft the 
galley under a number of spare booms. 

" Yet it wouldn't do," said Blades, looking at the vessel 
with one eye closed, " to leave that fine ship to go to pieces 
down here. He hailed her again : " Have you any dead 
aboard ? " 

" All are over the side, sir," was the answer. 

" How many sick have you ? " 

The man seemed to consider, looking round as he did so to 
the fellow at the wheel. He then bawled back in tones that 
warranted him in lung power if in nothing else, " There's two 
sick, and us two makes four ; all that's left of three-and- 
twenty men." 

" What are you ? " called Blades. 

"I'm the ship's carpenter, sir." 

Blades still hung in the wind ; he'd look at me doubtfully, 
then at the vessel, and indeed the dilemma was no small one. 
Yonder lay a plague ship — so at least her carpenter reported 
her. If we sent a few hands on board to help her to her port, 
what was to binder them from perishing as the original crew 


had, leaving the ship in the same plight ? If we brought those 
two men off they might infect the whole of our company. 
And then what was to be done with the two sick wretches in 
her forecastle ? Again, yonder was a craft the value of whose 
salving would certainly not fall short of a little estate. All 
these conflicting reflections worked in Blades' face, and pro- 
duced twenty expressions in a minute. He said to me, " We 
certainly can't leave her." 

" No, sir." 

" What's the nature of the sickness aboard. I'd give fifty 
pounds to find out." 

** Shall I go over to her and see what there is to report to 
you ? " 

" But you're no doctor, are ye ? Could you name a disease 
from a description of symptoms ? Suppose it should be small- 
pox? " He shuddered with a sudden face of loathing as he 
looked toward the vessel. 

" I expect it's some distemper arising from the cargo," 
said I, " like blindness from wheat or fever from coffee." 

This seemed to give him an idea, and he hailed the ship to 
know her load. 

" Sugar mainly," answered the man, who continued stand- 
ing on the rail, holding on by a backstay, apparently eying 
us intently, 

" Don't some sort of sweating sickness come from sugar ? " 
said Blades, turning to me. 

I didn't know. 

" It may be as you say," said he. " She'll not be the first 
ship whose cargo has bred pestilence for her people. There 
can be no harm done, I think, in your taking a boat and going 
across and looking around. Even if the vessel's not to be 
meddled with, the men must be saved ; that's the confounded 
problem. Unless we tow her — but then we'll need to board 
her to furl her canvas. Take a boat — that's, if you have no 
objection. I'm not for putting this sort of job upon any man 
as a duty." 

I sung out for some men to lay aft and clear away the port 
quarter boat. Four or five sailors came slouchingly and 
reluctantly along the deck. 

" Bear a hand. Aft with you," I shouted, for I ever heartily 
abominated in seamen that sort of behavior which we of the 
jacket call sojering. 

The group came to a stand at the quarter-deck capstan, and 
after a little backing and filling, hard biting of junks in their 
cheeks, and screwing up of eyes at the ship with sulky, woebe- 


gone looks, one of them said gloomily, '* Are us men expected 
to board that vessel ? " 

" To put me aboard," said I. 

" Capt'n, you heard what the covey in the straw hat said," 
exclaimed the man. 

" I'm not asking you to step over the side. The chief mate 
takes the risk. You can lay off and breathe and spit," said 

On this they came to the boat, but sullenly and reluctantly, 
cleared and lowered her. Three of them entered ; I followed, 
and we pulled for the vessel. I headed to pass under her 
stern, to board her to leeward. When the man in the straw 
hat saw me coming he leisurely stepped off the rail and crossed 
the deck. I guessed from his motions that he took his calam- 
itous situation pretty coolly ; there had been nothing whining, 
nothing whatever of the " Help-us-for-GodVsake " yowling 
in his cries to us. I saw ^^Earl of Leicester y London," in small 
letters on the ship's counter as we pulled under the square of 
stern, with its large, gleaming cabin windows just under the 
keel of the gig ; we were close here and could see how clean 
her sheathing was when the small swell hollowed a trifle under 
her run, lifting the metal and the copper of her rudder, with 
a look almost of brand-new light in it, out of the green 

'* Mizzen chains, lads," said I ; " then shove off and hang 
within hailing distance." 

I sprang into one of those platforms to which, in those days, 
the shrouds of the lower masts were secured by dead-eyes, 
and the bow oar eagerly thrust the boat clear. 

I found myself on the deck of one of the smartest ships I 
had ever boarded. Her planks were like a yacht's, with the 
white grain of the wood and the clean -edged black seams. As 
I sprang from the rail I glanced forward, but saw not a living 
creature stirring. Nothing moved but the heads of a number 
of cocks and hens betwixt the bars of a long coop just forward 
of the mainmast. The main hatch was closed with a tarpaulin 
over it in ship-shape, cargo-bottom fashion. The instant 
impression of distress and dreariness I got out of my first look 
round is one of the most impressive of my memories : all the 
running gear slack, the yards wildly braced, the unstowed 
cloths flogging aloft in the now freshening breeze, the big top- 
sails silent, one hollowing in, the other swelling out, the decks 
a lifeless length save but for those quick throbbings of red 
combs in the coop, the ship without way, course, or meaning 
in the aspect of her canvas, and a short man with a crumpled 


face and a large mustache holding on to the wheel as though 
making pretense to steer. 

The seaman who had answered Blades' hail stood beside the 
mizzen shrouds as I climbed up out of the chains. He was a 
dark, grave-faced man, between thirty-five and forty years old, 
with shaven cheeks, and a quantity of black hair dashed with 
gray upon his throat and chin. His eyes were soft, black, and 
penetrating, his countenance comely after a rude pattern, the 
features good, but coarse. His coat was of new cloth ; his 
waistcoat and small clothes were also new and good. I had 
sailed with several ship's carpenters in my time, but never 
before met with one who at sea dressed so well as this man, 
with fine flannel shirt, silk handkerchief, and good Wellington 

The other fellow, whom I just cast an eye at, was of the aver- 
age type of sailor, dressed in the jumper's rig, naked feet, old 
duck breeches, a red shirt which exposed half his breast, and a 
knife in a sheath strapped round his middle. I supposed him 
a foreigner with his big mustache, despite a leering blue eye 
and one of those dry, twisted expressions crowding the face 
with puckers — full, too, of a low, vulgar humor, which I never 
yet fell in with out of this kingdom. 

The man in the straw hat flourished his hand in a grave 

" I'm thankful to you, sir, for this visit," said he in a sober, 
smooth, rather deep voice. " May I ask your rank aboard the 
bark ? " 

" I'm her mate," I answered, struck by his very earnest 
regard of me. " Let's hear now what is this sickness that's 
reduced you to two well men out of a forecastle full." 

" There's a description of it in ci book below," he answered. 
" I found it in the capt'n's cabin. I'm no scholar and couldn't 
give it jer as that there book expresses of it." 

" What is it ? " said I. " A medical work ? " 

" I allow it is, then. It's got pictures of things belonging to 
the human body — heyes and hears, a man's thumbs, and the 
likes of that. There's a piece in that book that answers to 
what the men have died of. Kindly step below an' I'll show 
It jer. 

" What's your cargo again ? " 

" Mainly sugar." 

" Has it sweated ? " 

" Can't say I've took notice of that," he replied, looking in 
his slow way at the man at the wheel, who grew uneasy, I 
thought, under this silent reference, since he shuffled and gave 



the spokes a twirl, and looked aloft as though for a lifting 

I hesitated before entering the cabin, having somehow a 
fancy of the taste of sickness in the atmosphere down there. I- 
glanced at the skylight ; it was closed, and the crimson blinds 
under it were drawn. I found nothing significant in this amid 
such a picture of disorder as the ship presented aloft, the con- 
fusion up there working down into the whole body of her, so 
to speak, and affecting the eye as though everything was 

" Can't you bring that book up on deck ? " 

"I'd take it kindly if you'd step below, sir," said the man, 
speaking always very soberly and smoothly, with a slowness in 
the motion of his head and body as though his spirits had 
been sunk by anxiety. " The log book's in the cabin. I'd 
like you to see the entries down to the time when the second 
mate, the last of 'em aft here, was took. Yer'U get the rate of 
deaths there, likewise, perhaps a sarviceable hint or two. I 
allow that my answer touching the plague skeered them yon- 
der." He dropped his head sideways toward the bark. " I 
gave the thing the first name as rose. We badly want help, 
sir. You can see it now," and he sent a look along the silent, 
deserted decks. 

That notion of inspecting the log determined me. More- 
over, I wanted to see the ship's papers. I. moved toward the 
companion, observing this the man went before and led the 
way below. 

The instant I was at the bottom of the steps I saw that 
I was trapped, and turned to rush up, meaning to jump 
overboard with a shout to the Caroline's boat, but ev.en 
while I drew breath with that intention the companion was 
closed by some hand above, and the steps darkened, and I 
faced forward again, breathing hard and short, with both my 
fists clenched prepared for a struggle for life. 



The cabin, or cuddy, as it might be called, under the poop 
deck was in shadow owing to the companion being closed and 
the crimson blinds of the skylight drawn over the glass. But 
there was light enough to give one a clear view; it shone through 
little windows forward overlooking the quarter-deck. I saw 


five men in that cuddy in addition to the straw-hatted man 
who had conducted me below. They were forecastle hands, 
dressed in the plain familiar attire of the pier head and the 
boarding house. They had been sitting when we entered, but 
sprang to their feet on our coming down, while one of them 
stepped quickly betwixt me and the companion ladder. 

*' I am sorry to take you unawares in this fashion," said the 
man who had styled himself the vessel's carpenter, " but the 
long and short of it is we want a navigator and we want a 
captain, and you'll sarve our tarn for both, sir. S'elp me God, 
as I stand here, we mean honestly. It's all come about fairly. 
The only dirty part of it'll be this here kidnapping of you. But 
what must be must be. I beg you'll keep your mind easy; 
nothen but what you'll presently find right's intended. These 
are to be your quarters, and here we'll ask you to be good 
enough to stop till we calls upon you to take charge." 

He stepped to a door, and, throwing it open, motioned me 
into a good-sized cabin, lighted by a large circular porthole 
in the ship's side. 

I had stared at him with a wildly beating heart and doubt- 
less with a stone- white face, so startling, so terrifying had been 
this sudden, this most unexpected entrapment, while he had 
delivered the above extraordinary address. Then as he stood 
motioning me into the sleeping berth, I exclaimed, " You 
must let me go ! I'm mate of that bark abreast of you, and 
my services are wanted there. I can't help you here." 

" We beg you'll make no fuss," said one of the seamen, a 
brown, high-colored man, with thelooks of a fisherman. "We're 
all agreed. A master's wanted, and now you're here you'll 
have to stop, sir." 

This was said, not insolently, but firmly, yet with a note in it 
that threatened temper. 

" But, good God ! men," cried I, " this is an English ship 
I take it, and you're Englishmen, aren't you ? You can't walk 
off with a man in this fashion. It's a criminal offense — a 
hanging job not long since. There's many a passing ship 
that'll help you to a navigator ; don't carry me away against 
my will without the knowledge of my captain, who'll suppose 
I've run from him." 

" Mr. Brigstock," said a short, fat seaman with pig's eyes, 
and full hanging chops, "we don't want to use no force ; all ^ 

this here's been schemed out, and it's about time we trimmed \ 

sail, aint it ? " ' 

" It's crool hot down here, with everything shut up too," 
said the high-colored, fisherman-like sailor. 


" Jump on to the table and open that skylight, Bill," said 
the man called Brigstock, who was plainly the leader in this 
queer ocean business. 

" There's more'n us as is finding it hot — don't forget that, 
Mr. Brigstock," exclaimed a lively looking young seaman with 
ginger hair and greenish eyes, and that sort of clean appear- 
ance you'd expect in a man who had served aboard a man-of- 
war or spent a year or two in the ranks. 

" There's this to be said first," said Brigstock, addressing 
me : " whatever clothes and property we may be forcing you to 
lose sight of — no obligation to speak of losing of 'em — will be 
made up for fivefold. There's plenty to pick and choose 
from, and the first inning's yourn. That, sir, on Thomas 
Brigstock 's good oath. Now, \iyou please" — and with another 
grave motion of his arm, but viewing me sternly and even 
threateningly, he invited, or rather commanded, me to enter. 

I perceived the uselessness of expostulation or entreaty. I 
had followed the sea too long to mistake any meaning I might 
find in the faces and talk of sailors. Half stunned with the 
suddenness of it all, and scarcely yet fully realizing what had 
befallen me, I obeyed Brigstock's gesture ; when I was in the 
cabin he lifted his straw hat, and saying with a relaxed face 
and very civilly, " Your wants shall be seen to. You'll be 
kept here no longer than is needful," he withdrew, closing the 
door after him and locking it outside. 

I went to a bunk under the porthole, and leaning against it 
with folded arms waited for my wits to collect and compose 
themselves. This was a large, cheerful cabin, the fittings 
excellent, the bunk, washstand, little chest of drawers, all of 
polished mahogany, the long, handsome locker of some dark 
wood, perhaps oak. It had certainly been the captain's cabin. 
I guessed that by twenty signs — by the chronometers on 
shelves, the fine telescope, the bag of charts, the cases of 
mathematical instruments on a hinged table, the telltale com- 
pass amidships of the ceiling. There was good new bedding 
in the bunk, some wearing apparel hung at the bulkhead, and 
a square of Brussels carpet furnished the deck. 

On looking through the porthole I saw the Caroline ; she 
lay toy-like in the radiant disk, diminished by it, though no 
further oflt than before. I opened the port to let in air and 
hear ; just as I did this the powerful voice of Brigstock 
sounded overhead : 

" Boat ahoy ! You can return to the bark. Your mate 
means to stop along with us." 

If any answer was returned none reached my ear. In a few 


moments I caught the noise of the voices of seamen pulling 
and hauling, with a hurried tread of feet, and an occasional 
shout as of comfnand. The breeze was now fresh and brilliant, 
and gushed blue and salt with the color and savor of the 
ocean through the orifice I stood at. The bark still kept 
her topsail to the mast ; every sail was tremor less. She some- 
times shot a dazzling flash of sunshine from the glass of her 
skylight ; it was like a gun, and I wished to Heaven in the 
wrath and despair which filled me as I stood looking that it 
had been one often repeated and loaded to the muzzle. 

What would Blades suppose ? That I had voluntarily 
quitted the service of his ship ? Would he understand I had 
been stolen ? I saw him clearly as he stood aft near the wheel. 
Beside him was old Brace. It was easy to imagine the aston^ 
ishment and consternation which held them dumb and staring. 
Then I saw Blades spring with motions full of passion into the 
mizzen shrouds, and as he hung there, lifting his hand to his 
mouth to direct the flight of a cry, the boat swept into the 
circumference of the porthole, the stroke oar, rowing, fisher- 
man fashion, face forward, looking up at the bark and seem- 
ingly called to old Brace, who leaned over the rail to hear. 

" Ship ahoy ! *' came the voice of Blades in one of those 
sonorous, deep-chested, hurricane roars which years of bawl- 
ing to men aloft, and amid the thunders of hard weather, had 
qualified his fine chest to deliver. " What do you mean by 
keeping my mate ? What trick's this you're playing off on me ! 
Return the man, d'ye hear ? Return the man ! " Here he 
shouted an order down to the boat that was now alongside. 

** I have the name of your ship " The rest was lost 

owing to the bark at this moment sliding out of the ring of 
the porthole. The seamen had trimmed sail — the vessel I was 
aboard of had gathered way — we were off ! 

I fell back, breathing thick and feverishly with helpless rage 
and alarm. The breeze was now sweeping full and fair into 
the trimmed canvas of the ship. The water was passing in 
a glittering hurry of ripples fast growing and racing under the 
sweep of the wind ; my cabin was full of the twinkling lights 
of the sliding surface. The ship had gathered way quickly, 
and the foam of the arching bow wave streamed like a satin 
ribbon within biscuit toss of my porthole. It was about a 
quarter to one by the sun. I looked up at the telltale com- 
pass and found they were heading the ship due south. Due 
south ! What was the meaning of this mess I had suddenly 
tumbled into ? The ship was homeward bound just now, 
loaded with sugar from Madras ! What was it — a mutiny ? 


If SO, a murderous one surely, for in this sort of vessel you'd 
look for a captain and three mates, and where were they ? 
Or was it that the craft had been abandoned and then taken 
possession of by a shipwrecked crew, who, having settled what 
to do with her, had been lying in a posture of seeming disorder 
to carry off the first poor devil their lies or a distress color 
could court aboard ? 

After I had been locked up about an hour somebody struck 
the cabin door, the key was turned, and a young seaman walked 
in bearing a tray. He put the tray upon the table ; it was 
furnished with the plain food of the sea — some slices of salt 
horse, a ship's biscuit, a cube of cheese, and a bottle of ale. 
The man went out, locking the door. I did not speak to him. 
Indeed I had no questions to ask. I took him to be an ordi- 
nary seaman — no man, anyhow, to give me news of the crew's 

The ale refreshed me exceedingly ; there is no better drink 
ashore and at sea it tops the list of all draughts — when you 
can get it. I ate some beef and bread, and then to divert my- 
self took a look around the cabin. On examining the tele- 
scope, I found an inscription upon it stating that it had been 
presented to Thomas Halcrow, master of the Star of India, by 
certain passengers in that ship, 1847. I found the name of 
Halcrow upon the sextant and chronometer cases, and like- 
wise read it in some nautical works upon a shelf. Thomas 
Halcrow, then, I guessed, had been the commander of this 
ship, the Earl of Leicester, What had the crew done with him ? 

I sought for the vessel's log book and papers, but to no pur- 
pose. Some clothes were stowed in the locker ; here, too, I 
found a desk, which, as the lid opened when I handled it, I 
took the liberty of examining, hoping to meet with something 
to give me information about this ship, but I came across noth- 
ing to the point. A bundle of old letters, all addressed to "My 
dearest Tom," a miniature portrait of a good-looking young 
woman, and a few odds and ends of a desk's ordinary equip- 
ments—these formed the contents. I hunted with patience and 
eagerness for the ship's papers, and was heartily vexed at not 
finding them. Taking a sheet of paper from the desk, I sat at 
the table and wrote in pencil as briefly as possible the particu- 
lars of my entrapment. This done I folded the paper and put 
it in the ale bottle. There was sealing wax in the desk and sev- 
eral boxes of wax lights on the shelf ; with these I carefully 
sealed the cork, and then dropped the bottle through the port- 
hole, hoping that it might prove the means of accounting for 
my fate should I never be heard of again. 


This, together with my searching the cabin, had occupied 
my mind ; now that I had nothing to do my spirits sank to 
the very degree of suicide. What was to happen ? What 
baseness in the eye of Heaven had I been guilty of that I 
should be forced into these abrupt and tragic experiences? 
First, I sail away in a brig that is to be wrecked ; next I am 
carried ashore and thrown over the edge of a cliff a hundred 
feet high ; I lose all my money and effects ; then I suffer all 
the miseries of loneliness and hopelessness upon a desert 

No classic roamer but a shipwreckt man ; 

and no sooner has the wheel gone round and I am comfortable 
and happy again, earning good pay, living in the company of 
the best and kindest shipmate I ever sailed with, behold ! I am 
brought into this ship, made a prisoner of, and sailed away 
with presently to meet with Heaven alone knows what dread- 
ful end ! 

Thus ran my thoughts as I stood scowling in a fit of suicidal 
dejection through the porthole at the sea. The wind had 
briskened since I came aboard ; the vessel was leaning under 
a press of canvas ; the heel of her was sharp enough to lift the 
porthole above the horizon, and I saw nothing but the sky all 
adrift and flying east and south, so nimbly poured the clouds, 
white and small, and shining like mother-of-pearl. There was 
a great noise of washing waters under the porthole, with quick 
shattering falls of brine leaping from the slope of the metaled 
bends. The vessel was swarming through it at about nine 
knots. I guessed the wind nor'nor'west by the telltale, and 
again looking at that compass I saw they had headed the ship 
within the hour upon a course a little west of south. 

From time to time during that afternoon I fancied I heard 
the voices of women. Once I seemed to catch a laugh in the 
clear notes of a girl just overhead. Sometimes the sounds 
were as though groups of women stood at a distance talking 
earnestly. I put all this down to imagination, helped by the 
mimicry of the wind, whose whistling of laughter, song, and 
chatter in the rigging would reach me through the cabin 

The hour was six by the light when the door was beaten for 
the second time that day. Brigstock entered. I looked past 
him, expecting others ; he was alone. He held his straw hat 
in his hand, and his whole demeanor and aspect were formal, 
decent, and respectful. His dark hair was smoothed upon his 
head as though soaped ; it was parted on one side, and the 




division was peculiarly white, broad, and defined. He had 
something of a psalm-singing look about him, and my instant 
thought was of Fletcher of Bristol. 

I was exceedingly agitated, though I sought to compose my 
face into a stern look. I folded my arms and demeanored 
myself as an outraged man ; but my spirits ran very low, for 
when I saw Brigstock I thought to myself. What has he come 
to say ? What's to be my fate ? I was a prisoner in this ship, 
unarmed, friendless, helpless, and the men's need of my serv- 
ices, the services to be rendered, and the story of the vessel 
herself were yet to be learnt. 

Brigstock shut the door, and, looking at the tray, exclaimed, 
" I hope you han't been neglected ? I directed that you was 
to be seen to. We've been carrying on to run your bark 
below the sea, and my hands have been full what with keeping 
a lookout and other matters." 

" Is the bark out of sight ? " said I. 

" Oh, why, yes, sir," he answered in his slow, grave way. 
" Out o' sight ? What's that poor old barge a-going to do with 
a hull built on the lines of this here vessel ? ** 

" What's your name ?" 

" Thomas Brigstock, sir." 

"I remember." 

" And yourn ? " 

" Charles Morgan. Mr. Brigstock, what motive have you 
in carrying me off in this fashion ? " 

" A little patience, sir. I know it's ,hard, but it'll all come 
right. If the scheme don't fit your own notions to a hair I'm 
no man. Such a choice as there is — saving, of course, this : 
perhaps you're married ? " 

" I don't understand you. Explain your reason for imprison- 
ing me. Where's this ship bound to ? What was your object 
in telling me about the plague, and the four survivors of a 
large company, and of your being homeward bound from 
Madras with a cargo of sugar ? And what do you mean to do 
with me ? " I added, speaking with heat, and looking at the 
fellow with a face of temper that was no longer a counterfeit. 

" It was necessary to stoop to a lie," answered Brigstock 
coolly and leisurely. " We tarned the matter over, and all 
agreed there was no help for it ; a lie must be told. Well, it 
is told. There's several kinds of lies : one, the harmless 
sort ; no man's ever the worse for being told it." 

" What's become of your captain ? " 

" You shall hear all about that, Mr. Morgan." 

"And your mate?" 


"All about that too, sir.' 

" How many mates do you carry ? 

" All about it, all about it, with a little waiting," he exclaimed. 
" Now, sir, as you're to be master of this vessel, allowing that 
you're capable of navigating her, which I don't doubt, it's not 
for us to keep you any longer locked up here. That 'ud be 

So saying, he threw open the door, and held it in an attitude 
significant of his wish that I should pass out. 

I did so, and found myself in an elegant little cuddy, painted 
white and gold, and furnished with cushioned lockers and a 
short row of handsome chairs on either side the length of rich, 
dark, highly polished table. The after end of that table was 
cut so as to embrace the shaft of the mizzenmast, a solid white 
column, elaborately fluted and picked out with gold. I had 
seldom viewed a prettier interior. 

What I have described I saw in a quick look around after 
stepping out ; now, standing at the table, I gazed forward, 
and the sight I beheld so astounded me that my reason could 
scarcely credit the report of my eyes. 

brigstock's story. 

The cuddy front was furnished with a central.door and two 
windows on either hand of it. Door and windows were wide 
open; the decks were visible through them to the forecastle; 
imagine my amazement when I beheld those decks crowded 
with women! 

At the first look there seemed two hundred. Groups stood 
about in eager talk ; many came and went at the door and 
windows, peering in and then passing on. All were in motion, 
with few exceptions — a perpetual shifting and dissolving of 
small mobs of females. Now in good truth could I hear the 
voices of women! 

Glancing up, I spied the faces of several females looking at 
me through the open skylight. They wore shawls and hats and 
bonnets, and were mostly young, it seemed to me then — both 
the skylight lot and those out on the main deck. Brigstock 
and I had the cabin to ourselves. I stared at him with a 
frown of astonishment and inquiry. Of course I was too old 
a hand to wonder where these wom.en had sprung from ; they 
had been kept in the drenching heat of the 'tween decks, the 


hatches on, tarpaulined and battened down, that the ship 
might look a plain cargo carrier, while Brigstock answered 
Blades across the water, and lied to me about the plague and 
the vessel's lading. 

" Who are those people ? " said I. 

"Emigrants," answered Brigstock. "There are ninety of 
them, and there's twelve of us males. One hundred arid two 
souls in all a-washing about without a navigator, and nothing 
to depend on but the heye of Providence." 

"Why," cried I, rounding upon him passionately, "did you 
not tell my captain the truth ? He would have seen you to 
some place of safety — put me aboard to keep the ship in the 
bark's company." 

A slow, peculiar smile worked over his face like a succession 
of ripples on water. The mirth was out of his eyes while the 
grin was still on his lips. 

" Will yer sit down, Mr. Morgan, and I'll give you the 
whole yarn ? " said he. 

I went to the table and sunk upon a chair. A number of 
women were now clustered at the skylight, and groups were 
constantly coming and going at the door and windows, paus- 
ing to stare, and then they'd walk away, talking quickly, 
making room for others. 

Brigstock, turning up his eyes at the skylight, exclaimed : 
" You're a-keeping the air out, ladies. 'Sides, the poop aint 
yourn now that the ship's got a capt'n. Do, like kind, good 
people, step down on the quarter-deck, will yer, and leave room 
for that there skylight to let in wind ? " 

" If there's a captain come on board will he tell us if ever 
we're to get to Orstralia ? " cried a young woman in an old 
bonnet and shawl, with a club nose, and a rather merry cock 
in her blue eye. 

" Aye, aye ; it'll be all right now — it'll be all right now," 
exclaimed Brigstock soothingly. " Do, like good, kind peo- 
ple, go away forward, will yer, ladies ?" 

" If jou calls yourself a man," cried a gypsy-faced young 
woman, black and red and curly, with bright eyes and white 
teeth, " you'll tell the new capting the mischief you intends us, 
.as how we're not to reach Australia at all, but to be put into 
an ilyand " 

" That aint true," cried Brigstock, " and you knows, Miss 
Dolly Johnson, while jer're saying of it that it aint true. I've 
got jer name. I knows you. I've arsted jer more'n wance to 
be civil. Everything's right in this ship. Our meaning '11 be 
plain to the new captain shortly. Won't jer go away, then ? " 


" Captain, I wish you would let us know what's to become 
of us/' exclaimed a pale dark girl in a languid voice, dressed 
in a round velvet hat and a jacket ; she had the look of a 
housemaid or a dressmaker ; as she leaned into the skylight 
her rather pretty figure was peculiarly graceful in its uncon- 
scious posture of entreaty and alarm. 

I wa*s too puzzled and bewildered to make answer. It was 
not only the eyes of perhaps a dozen girls now staring down 
at me, one over another's shoulder, through the large open 
skylight: the women on the main deck were crowding the 
doorway and the windows, talking swiftly among themselves, 
now and again a voice lifting into shrillness as though urging 
another to speak out ; this sudden confrontment, I say, of 
women's faces above and women's forms below was enough 
to scatter the wits of a man who a little while before had 
never guessed that there was more than sailors aboard, who 
had not set eyes on a woman for weeks, and who at any time 
was never much at his ease in the company of a number of 
the sex. 

" So you won't go ? " cried Brigstock with energy, but with- 
out temper. " Mr. Morgan, I'll be back in a minute or two." 

He went on deck and bawled for Isaac and Jupe and Bill 
and Joe and one or two others to lay aft. Most of the women 
at the skylight then went away ; among those who stayed 
was the gypsy-faced girl. She screeched down, "Captain, 
sail us to Orstralia, please. We're female emigrants going out 
to take situations. We're all respectable girls, and some of us 
is ladies. The sailors aint got no 'ed, and they talk — and 
they talk " 

By this time some of the men had come on to the poop. 
" Now, ladies, if you please," one of them exclaimed. In a few 
moments the skylight was empty of faces, but the gypsy-like 
girl's voice rang out as she went forward ; others swelled their 
pipes high in cackling choruses of fear, wonder, temper. As 
the skylight women drained off the poop on to the main deck, 
the crowds there gathered about them. A couple of seamen 
stood sentry at the skylight — they stared down hard at me, 
who sat just under. Others cleared the entrance door forward 
and kept the windows free, through which I watched a scene 
strange and wild indeed to light upon in mid-ocean — seventy 
or eighty women, mostly young, attired in as many ways as 
there were people, a few in black, most in gay colors. The 
ship was going along smoothly, heeled by the breeze ; on the 
slope of the planks the women stood crowding around the 
main hatch and mainmast, filling the deck to the bulwarks on 


either hand, flourishing their arms, chatting with fire, their 
hands upon their hips, some appearing to spit their thoughts at 
one another in cockfighting attitudes, nose to nose, as they 
talked. A few hung silently apart, and they were mainly the 
soberly dressed women. 

I did not command the whole scene, but what I beheld 
through the door and windows was an amazing picture of 
female passions, almost startling with the abounding life in it, 
so vivid were all colors in the light of the red sun, so dramatic 
and ceaseless the postures and movements, so vital, too, the 
whole with the quickening spirit put into it by the play of 
shadows flung by the rigging, and the sensation of swiftness 
coming out of the roar of parted and passing waters, and the 
marble-hard curves of the straining canvas. 

Brigstock came leisurely down the companion steps. He 
laid his hat upon the table and seated himself abreast of me. 

" Never yet met a woman," said he, " whose tongue wasn't 
slung in the middle for both ends to wag at wunst. Talk. 
There's that Dolly Johnson, as her name is. Start her and it's 
like sticking a gimlet into a full cask. But women's man's 
weaker vessels, and must be borne with." 

** What about this ship ? " said I, staring him full in the 
face. " Why am I kept here ? " 

He slowly looked up at that part of the upper deck which 
was pierced by the shaft of the mizzenmast, and pointed to it. 

" D'jer see that smudge there, sir, as though the stuff had 
been coated with charcoal ? " 

It was as if the spar had been lanced with fire, chiseled 
deep, but fine, then blackened with the smoke of a blast of 
gunpowder. I had not before observed those marks. They 
ran down abaft the mast, winding toward the table. 

" That spar's been struck," said I. 

" Right, sir," he answered, with a slow drop of his head. 
" The master of this vessel was Captain Halcrow, her chief 
mate was Mr. Billing, the second officer was termed Mr. 
Jeremy Latto, the bo'sun of the ship was called Cox, and 
there was Dr. Rolt, a medical gent, in charge of the emigrants. 
One day the capt'n. Dr. Rolt, and Mr. Billing were sitting at 
dinner at this table. The captain, as it might be, was there. 
Here, opposite him, sits Dr. Rolt. Alongside the medical 
gent was Mr. Billing. I had come aft to put a screw into 
that skylight, and looking down saw the three gentlemen at 
their lunch as I've described. I went forward to get a small 
screwdriver. It was a very heavy day. The hatmosphere 
seemed full of smoke, long sleeping lines of it. The horizon 


was thick as dust, and the muck overhead hung in heaps close 
down to the trucks, as if nothen but our mastheads kept their 
bellies from bustin'. The royals and to'gallan' s'ls were off 
her, the mainsail hauled up. The second mate had charge of 
the deck. Everything had been quiet while this weather was 
a-brewing. I never heard a single note of thunder out in the 
gloom, and the water was like a looking-glass, with a large 
heave of swell running through it from the south'ard. I'd just 
got to my cabin, which I shared with the bo'sun — in that port 
wing o* fo'c's'le," said he, pointing forward, " when there was 
a traymendious flash of lightning, followed by such a roar of 
thunder that I actually thought the ship was splitting into 
pieces under foot. Someone yelled, * We've been struck ! ' 
Just then out rushes the mate from the cuddy, bellowing like 
a cow for it's calf, and flourishing his arms as if he was gone 
clean mad. While a number of us was running aft there was 
a second traymendious flash, and another roar of thunder like 
to what went before, only louder, and down comes the rain in 
a living sheet. 

" What had happened ? When we ran into the cuddy we 
found Dr. Rolt lying over the table dead as a chisel. The 
captain was standing up with his hands over his eyes. 'Oh! 
I'm struck blind ! ' he was crying. * Oh, I'm struck blind ! * 
You can see how it happened. Here they sat, and the light- 
ning falling maybe down the topsail sheets strikes through the 
mast coat, and kills one man and blinds another." 

I got up and walked to the mast to look again at the marks. 
They were the work of a flash of lightning, and given two 
men sitting close against the spar on either hand it, what more 
conceivable than that one should be killed and the other 
blinded ? 

I returned to my seat. By this time others of the ship's 
company had gathered at the skylight, and, glancing up, I found 
myself closely scrutinized by some half dozen sailors. Others 
who kept the women clear of the doors and windows, con- 
stantly directed their eyes our way. 

" Well, sir," continued Brigstock, " we buried poor Dr. Rolt, 
and the body of a kinder man was never tossed overboard by 
sailors. You should have heard him read the sarvice on Sun- 
days ! and I'd never ask for a beautifuller sermon than he'd 
give us. The captain, having lost his sight, was of no use. 
There was nobody to tell him what to do to get his eyes again. 
He kept his cabin and Mr. Billing took charge, but we soon 
saw that things was going wrong with the mate's intellects. 
It might have been the helectricity ; it might have been the 


seeing a man struck dead just, maybe, as he was opening his 
mouth to talk ; something had happened that was too much 
for his reason, which I'm bound to say was never to be classed 
A I in Natur's Registry o' Brains. He*d call a man aft, 
look strangely, and forget what he'd sung out to him to come 
for. I'd take notice of a wildness in the poor chap's eyes, and 
wance bid the bo'sun observe it, and Cox he saw it. 

" He came on deck one middle watch, and before two bells 
was struck all hands was called. What for ? Because Mr. 
Billing had chucked himself overboard. So help me *01y 
Writ, which I read and believe in, it's the truth I sit here 
a-telling you," said Brigstock, slowly putting his great brown 
hand down upon the table, and solemnly inclining his head at 
it three or four times in silence. " 'Twas the man at the 
wheel saw Mr. Billing cast himself into the sea," he continued 
after a pause, during which I had closely watched his face, 
convinced by this examination that he was talking facts. 
" He gave the alarm, as it's called. The ship was brought to 
the wind and a boat sent away with the bo 'sun in charge of 
her. There was some moonlight, too much to miss the ship 
by, too little to find the man with. They searched long, for 
the mate's was a valuable life, then returned and we proceeded. 

'' It got about that the captain, much the same as Mr Bil- 
ling had, was beginning to show some weakness in his senses. 
The news had come along by the steward. We onderstood he 
meant to transship himself at the first chance. It looked bad 
that a capt'n, though blind, should abandon his ship. Why didn't 
he order the second mate to carry the vessel to a port ? Because 
in my opinion the second mate wanted command himself, and 
worked upon the feelings of the afflicted commander. Be 
struck blind, sir, and let the stays of your hintellect fall slack, 
and it's odds if the first designing chap as comes along don't 
find jer an easy prey. The steward 'ud tell us that he'd look 
in on the capt'n and find him with tears on his cheeks. He 
overheard the poor man tell Mr. Latto — that was the second 
mate's name — that he wanted to get back to his wife and chil- 
dren ; if his sight wur gone he was a ruined man, he said ; he 
must get home quickly and put himself in the hands of the 
doctors while there was a shot in the locker to pay 'em with, 
and the second mate kept on recommending that he should 
go, taking the first ship for home that 'ud receive him. 

" It'll be ten days ago to-day that we spoke a vessel called 
the Sovereign^ from Bombay for London. We hove to within 
hail, and Mr. Latto talked with her master. They had a doc- 
tor aboard, but he'd hurt his leg and couldn't leave the vessel, 


SO the captain invited Mr. Latto to bring our commander to 
his ship that the doctor might look at his eyes, and tell him 
whether he might keep all on or whether he ought to retarn 
home for a hoperation. Poor Captain Halcrow was handed 
over the side ; Mr. Latto he got in. The bo'sun Cox he went 
along too. He was troubled with something wrong inwardly, 
and there being no doctor in this ship,he asked Mr. Latto's leave 
to get the advice of the surgeon of the Sovereign, They left 
me in charge of this vessel ; though I'm signed on here as car- 
penter I must tell you that I'm an able seaman likewise, also 
sail maker, and was mate of a coaster three voyages, but I 
know nothing about navigation. 

" It was blowing a steady good breeze when the boat put off 
that morning. It was a little afore noon. On a sudden it 
piped up in a squall that whitened the water, though I could 
see nothen for more wind to come out of than there was before. 
The sea began to jump just as though there was a volcanic 
heruption at work. This vessel lay down to the blast, and we 
let go and clewed up, but the main topsail was aback. I saw 
that the yard must be swung if the spar was to stand, and I 
put my helm up, never doubting that the Sovereign^ seeing our 
situation, 'ud follow with our boat till we brought the ship to 

" To cut this yarn, sir : the breeze hardened into half a gale 
afore two bells ; all to windward it was thick as muck. We 
reefed topsails and brought the ship to, but t'other vessel was 
out of sight by this time. She'd faded in the thickness as yer 
image disappears in ruffled water. Some of our men said that 
when they last saw her she was running. If so, she was not 
making our course ; we hove to and kept a bright lookout, 
but never saw her again." 

He got up as he pronounced these words and entered a 
cabin two doors from the one I had been locked up in. It was 
yet the afternoon, but the sun was low. Through the skylight 
I spied many scarlet clouds, speeding fast athwart our mast- 
heads. The sailors had withdrawn. One or two may have 
been hanging about to keep the skylight clear of the women, 
but there was no more eager, scrutinizing, staring down at me 
up there. 

The quarter-deck, however, continued filling with young 
women. I heard the sailors stationed at the door talking to a 
little crowd who had just then swarmed to the cuddy front as 
though to a general impulse of feverish, overmastering anxiety 
and curiosity. The hot, blood-red light lay on them, and again 
I viewed with amazement that singular scene of life and color, 


the continual movement of female shapes, a restless coming 
and going of white and brown faces and shining eyes, a stream- 
like mingling of fluttering hues of apparel, the greens and reds 
and blues of the feathers and ribbons and hats, bright as light 
itself under, the arch of the milk-white staysail, whose clew 
curved aft like the pinion of a sea fowl. 

In a few moments Brigstock returned with the log book and 
a tin box ; he put them on the table saying, " You've had my 
yarn^ Mr. Morgan. Now you'll be able to judge of the truth 
for yourself." 

He sat down with his slow motion and sober face and 
watched me. I opened the log book and found that the entries 
under the heading of " Remarks " corresponded exactly with 
Brigstock*s story. The mate had kept the journal down to 
the day when he took charge, on the captain losing his sight. 
Afterward the second mate, Latto, kept the log book. This 
was made clear by the handwriting. The reference to the dis- 
aster in the cuddy ran thus : 

" The day opens thick and heavy, the weather darkening 
toward noon with a calm sea and a light westerly swell. At 
one o'clock, while the captain, Dr. Rolt, and the chief officer 
were at lunch in the cuddy, the ship was struck by lightning ; 
the flame cut through the mast coat and burst with an explo- 
sion like a gun, filling the cuddy with a dazzling violet light. 
Dr. Rolt was instantly killed, the captain was blinded, the 
chief mate sustained a serious shock, but was not otherwise 

I looked at Brigstock after reading this to myself and said, 
" Here is the story of the lightning stroke just as you related 
it to me." 

He Viewed me gravely without speaking. I turned over the 
pages and read more, all to the point. The burial of Dr. 
Rolt was entered, likewise the suicide of the chief officer — this, 
of course, in the handwriting of Mr. Latto. There was also 
an entry recording the death of the steward ; this had hap- 
pened some days after the tragic incident of the lightning, and 
was probably referable to it, if, as was likely, the man was 
waiting upon the captain and the others at the time. The 
last of the log-book entries was dated eleven days before, sig- 
nifying, according to Brigstock's statement, the accuracy of 
which I was now certain of, that on the day following Latto 
had gone in the boat with the blind captain to the Sovereign 
and lost his ship. 

" Now look at the vessel's papers, sir," said Brigstock, 
observing that I closed the log book. 


But there was nothing^ material to be gathered from those 
documents ; all of interest concerned the cargo. The vessel, 
it seems, was freighted with stores for New South Wales ; the 
goods consisted of agricultural implements, household furni- 
ture, male and female wearing apparel, and the like. Here 
were clearly given all particulars of the ship. She was the 
Earl of Leicester^ of 580 tons registered burden, owned by 
Bull & Johnstone of Fenchurch Street, chartered for this 
voyage as an emigrant vessel. The number of female emi- 
grants was ninety, including a matron. There had been 
originally nineteen seamen, but death and the misadventure of 
the boat had sunk the number to twelve. 

" Are you satisfied, sir ? " said Brigstock, with one of those 
strange smiles which passed over his face like a cat's-paw over 
the sea, shadowing but a part at a time. 

" Yes, that you've spoken the truth," I answered ; "but that 
doesn't leave me the better ofiF. Will you tell me where you're 
bound to, and what I've got to expect ?" 

" With your leave," he answered, " I'll put these things in 
your cabin." 

He carried the book and the box to the berth I had been 
imprisoned in. 

** Now, sir," said he, coming back to the table and picking up 
his hat, " afore I tells you what our scheme is, I'd like you to 
take a look at the ship," and without waiting for an answer he 
slowly stumped up the companion steps. 




A FRESH breeze was blowing off the starboard beam, a point 
abaft it. The sky was red-hot from sea line to zenith with the 
sunset, and under the great orb, poised yet a few degrees above 
the horizon, the seas were working in blood. The ship had 
all plain sail on her and was making noble progress. Masses 
of orange-colored foam broke from her weather bow, and over 
the rail to leeward the race was a wide and giddy swirl of 
froth, whose extremity trembled in a windy sparkle a league 
astern in the liquid crimson, which down there overhung the 
blue and breaking surge. 

I stood a minute or two at the companion looking up and 
around to see what the picture was like. This was a fine little 
ship, her decks s^nd-white, brass and glass and paint work 


bright and gleaming, everywhere a finish as of yacht-like pre- 
cision in smallest details, such as the grating abaft the wheel, 
the boat fittings, the compass stands, and so on. Her short 
poop was handsomely railed at its break with brass, where a 
row of trim buckets were neatly fitted. A central flight of 
steps led to the quarter-deck. 

A couple of seamen patrolled the weather side of the poop ; 
one of them was the dark, high-colored, fisherman-looking 
fellow ; the other a middle-aged man after Brigstock's build 
and looks, with a sour curl of lip, and a pair of large globular 
gray eyes, the left lid with a droop that painted a leer upon 
his countenance. This man I reckoned was looking after the 
ship in Brigstock's absence, while the other might have been 
one of the men who had kept the skylight clear. They halted 
in their pendulum walk on wheeling round and seeing me on 

Brigstock exclaimed : " Our new capt'n, Joe ; Bill, the new 
capt'n," on which both men flourished a thumb at their fore- 

They were attired in the clothes they had shipped with, Joe 
in a fur cap and a worn monkey jacket ; the other in the togs 
of the sailor end of London. Joe had the appearance of the 
master of a collier, sturdy, sour, and self-sufficient. Their 
attire made me suspect that Brigstock — that he might enjoy 
his temporary command of the ship up to the hilt — had clothed 
himself in garments left behind by the captain or mates. 

" Joe's been hacting as chief officer," said Brigstock, " but 
the duty han't amounted to much more'n keeping a lookout. 
He'll do well as second." 

I glanced at the men, but said nothing. Small wonder that 
the Caroline should have been quickly run out of sight in such 
a breeze as this. Her round bows might thunder out eight 
with half a gale of wind at her stern, but here was a clipper 
ship with lines for an easy twelve as the wind now blew, rear- 
ing such spacious heights as she did, everything aloft fitting 
to perfection, everything set with the critical care and eye of 
true seamanship, not an inch of the lustrous cloths but was doing 
its work. Yes, the Caroline had long ago faded out of sight 
like the honest old cask that she was ; and then, again, the sea- 
men of this vessel had headed her on a course that was not 
Blades', whose thoughts would not be of chasing, but of 

I walked to the break of the poop and looked along the 
decks. I supposed the women had supped ; there was no 
coming and going in the galley, at whose door three or four 


seamen lounged, smoking and staring aft at me. The decks 
were not so full as they had shown. Probably half of the 
emigrants were below, yet those visible made a goodly num- 
ber as they hung here and there in groups or restlessly walked. 
It is women's apparel, I suppose, that, by filling the eye, seems 
to swell a mob of twenty of them into the bulk of forty men. 

I stood looking, wondering what was to be the issue of this, 
the latest of my extraordinary adventures. Brigstock came 
and posted himself beside me. The man Joe resumed his 
walk, and the dark, high-colored Bill went forward. I took 
notice that many of those whom I viewed were young women 
ranging from eighteen to perhaps thirty years of age. Most 
had the looks of what you would call upper servants ; others 
suggested the shop and the workroom. Here and there was 
a refined face. They all seemed in good health, as though 
picked for the most part, and well treated since they had been 
in the ship. 

The main hatch lay open with a single grating across it. A 
few girls were seated on the coamings of the hatch, but they 
got up when they saw me, and then all the women seemed 
sensible of my presence at the same moment ; every face was 
upturned ; a pale girl with dark eyes, clothed in a hat and 
well-fitting jacket, stepped to under the spot where I stood, 
and cried out with an hysterical clearness and loudness of 
voice : 

** If you are the captain will you please tell us, sir, what's to 
become of us ? " 

"Lady," answered Brigstock, leaning over the rail and 
speaking with the gravity of a man in the pulpit, " it's not in 
the captain's power to answer that question, and why? 
Because he dorn't yet know himself what our plans are." 

" But we know what your plans .are," cried the girl, looking 
around her as though she would summon others to form up 
and help her with their presence. ** They talk, captain, of 
choosing wives out of our number and settling in an island, 
and there's them in this ship," she went on, with a scowl on 
her white brow as she looked around her, " as are base and 
vile enough to accept the sailors' offers. Oh, sir," she cried, 
lifting her hands and raising her voice into a harsh, unmusical, 
wailing note, " if you are a gentleman, as we see you are, 
you'll sail us to the country we're embarked for. We're many 
as wishes to have nothing to do with the sailors and who scorns 
the silly notion of an island." 

'* Mr. Brigstock," said I, " has told you the truth so far as I 
am concerned. I have no notion as yet of the men's inten- 


tions. Do you know how I was brought into this ship? 
What's expected of me I've yet to hear. But one thing I hope, 
indeed I am sure of : whatever the designs of the sailors may 
be, no mischief is intended you — nothing worse, let me believe, 
than a delayed voyage. Am I right ? " I said, turning upon 

** They know," he answered, spreading his square-ended 
fingers toward the quarter-deck as though he blessed the crowd 
of up-lookers, *' that no harm's meant. Yer'll larn all pres- 
ently, Mr. Morgan, but I wanted jer to take a look round 

At this moment I became conscious of being intently 
watched by a girl who stood alone at the bulwarks abreast of 
the main hatch. Strange that one out of the many females 
who were staring at me should catch and fix my eye ! I 
looked and looked again with growing wonder. I said to 
myself, ** Where have I met that girl ? " She wore a black and 
white straw hat with a black ribbon round it, and was dressed 
in black ; her plain r.obe fitted her so as to yield to the sight 
most of the graces of her figure. Enough daylight yet lived 
to see clearly by. I stretched my neck and screwed my brow 
to distinguish the girl ; observing this she bowed and smiled, 
and with some color in her face came along to the poop ladder. 

Not until she had reached the foot of the ladder did I recog- 
nize her. It was Kate Darnley ! 

In a moment I ran down to catch her hand and bring her 
on to the poop deck. 

" Heaven preserve us ! " I exclaimed, regarding her with 
amazement ; in truth I was so entirely capsized by this sudden 
encounter that I forgot how to behave myself. "What on earth 
are you doing here ? " 

" It is an extraordinary meeting," she answered, with a great 
deal of color still in her cheeks. '* What should I be here Jbut 
an emigrant ? But to find you in the ship ! " 

I glanced at Brigstock, who had stepped aside on my bring- 
ing Kate Darnley up the ladder : he was viewing us with com- 
placency. His mind lay plain in the face : he was glad I had 
found a friend among the women ; the discovery would recon- 
cile me to my situation, perhaps. The women on the main 
deck looked and talked in asides; curiosity was strong in 
their countenances, and many of them were smiling. 

** Well, I'm junked ! " said I. " And yet I remember now 
you'd sometimes talk a bit darkly of emigrating. I recollect 
certain questions you put to me when we stood one day watch- 
ing a streak of sea past ten miles of mud." 


*^ I was without friends and I declined to starve/' she 
answered, speaking quickly, " but I never bargained for Ms" 

I led her aft. When the man named Joe saw me coming to 
the weather side of the poop, which is the ship's dignity walk, 
the place for the commander when he's on deck, everybody 
saving the passengers giving it a wide berth then, he crossed 
to leeward, joined Brigstock, and they paced athwart ships. 
Many of the women went some distance forward to watch us, 
of such importance in the dullness of the sea is any trifle which 
rises above the nothings of the everyday life spent upon it. 

" I scarcely now credit my eyesight," said I. " Your face 
brings up Blathford, and I smell the sweets of the old garden 
again, and we're on the river watched by cows and sheep 

instead of — instead of But you are looking well. Are 

not you plumper than you were ? But, great guns ! what a 
situation to find you in ! " 

She kept her dark eyes fastened upon me while I rattled on. 
Her color had gone, but it brightened again in a soft suffus- 
ing bloom when I talked of the sweets of the garden and our 
river jaunts. 

*' I am as astonished as you ! " she exclaimed. *' It is a 
wonderful meeting. But then I have been watching you for 
some time, and my surprise has not the freshness of yours. 
Have you been wrecked ? Did the sailors find you in an open 
boat that you're here ? " 

" Don't you know," said I, " that this morning a bark named 
the Caroline was spoken by this ship and her mate — myself — 
courted on board by the most artful infernal lie ever uttered 
by a respectable pious seaman ? " 

" All I know is this," she answered : " a vessel was sighted 
this morning, and when it was understood she was steering 
for us the sailors told us to go below, and covered up the 
hatches, and there they kept us for three or four hours till 
some of us were nearly dead with the heat and vile air." 

I ndw told her my story, afterward going back to my start 
from Bristol, and working through my adventure down to that 
morning. She listened with eyes large with wonder and inter- 
est, sometimes uttering exclamations at the more tragic parts, 
as Fletcher's throwing me off the cliff. By this time the sun 
was gone, the shadow of the night was upon the sea, the stars 
were shining brightly, and there was a piece of red moon 
down in the southeast. The wind blew strong, and the ship 
was roaring through the darkness, throwing a faintness as of 
twilight upon the atmosphere round about her out of the foam 
she hurled to left and right. 


"Capt'n, she's a bit pressed," called out Brigstock from 
the break of the poop ; "shall we hease her of the royals and 
mizzen t*garn s'l ? " 

" I am no captain of yours," I sung back. " There's some- 
thing to be said and heard before I take that post here." 

" That'll be as soon as ever you're ready to step below, 
sir," he answered, as respectfully as any man could wish to be 
addressed by another; then spoke to Bill, who called out 
orders to clew up and stow the light sails just named. 

" I hope you'll take command of the ship," said Kate Darn- 
ley. " What otherwise is to become of us ? The sailors have 
some wild, dangerous scheme in their heads of choosing wives 
from the women on board and settling upon an island." 

" They've been reading about the mutiny of the Bounty^ I 
suppose," I exclaimed, not very credulous of what she told me. 

" They've found women," she went on, "willing to accept, 
them as husbands, and to settle with them." 

"What! since you lost sight of the Sovereign with your 
blinded captain in her ? " 

" I suppose so. The men had very little to say to the girls 
when Dr. Rolt was alive." 

" In ten days the Jacks have worked out a scheme of 
marriage and colonization ! I'll hear Brigstock's yarn. 
What part of the ship do you occupy ? " 

" The 'tween decks with the rest of them." 

" I'll have you out of it and put you into a cabin aft. You 
have a fine spirit to start all alone on a bread hunt t'other 
side the world. You've no friends in Australia, I know." 

" None. But I had no idea either of starving in England, 
Mr. Morgan. 

" You called me Charlie at Blathford." 

"And I'll call you so here," she answered, "but we've not 
met for many months, and this sort of meeting is being like 
introduced afresh." 

"So it is. But still you'll call me Charles for auld lang 
syne, and you shall be Kate. I'll tell you why : if I take 
command here, the ship certainly must be navigated, and I 
guess I'm the only one that can do it. I shall be able to 
make you comfortable without exciting the jealousy of the 
'tween decks or the criticism of the forecastle by letting every- 
body suppose you're a connection of mine, or if not that, an 
old and intimate friend." 

" But," said she after a pause, during which she had caught 
hold of my arm to steady herself, for on a sudden the breeze 
had freshened in a shrieking gust, tilting the angle of the 


deck into a sharp slope, and setting Joe roaring out to the 
men to clew up the fore topgallant sail and to take in other 
canvas, *' but what will you do," said she, ^' if the men insist on 
carrying out their scheme ? " 

'' I must learn their plans from their own lips before I can 
answer your question." 

Just then the shape of a woman showed darkly on the poop 
ladder. The moon made very little light. Her wake was a 
short scope of broken, leaping silver ; the stars shone finely, 
yet it was a dark night, though clear, with swift gleamings of 
the cold fires of the sea-glow in the black ridges ere they 

" Is that you. Miss Darnley ? " called out the woman, stand- 
ing on the poop ladder. 

The girl answered yes. 

•' It's eight o'clock, please." 

" All right," returned Kate. " We're supposed to * turn in,' 
as you sailors say, at eight," she added. 

The woman disappeared. 

" Who was that ? " said I. 

" Miss Cobbs, the matron," she answered. 

" Do they still carry out what was done in Dr. Rolt's time ? " 
said I, walking slowly with her toward the ladder. 

'* Nearly. Meals are served at the same hours, and we're 
called below by the matron at eight — the time was seven at 

" I'm glad to hear that," said I. *' It speaks well for the 
crew. There's no head — you can't talk of Brigstock as a 
head — and yet the rules, of Rolt's contrivance, I presume, are 
as much in force as when he was aboard." 

" I'll say this," she exclaimed in a low voice, for the man 
Joe paced near us while we halted a moment or two at the 
head of the poop ladder : *' the men so far have behaved 
with perfect propriety. I have not heard a complaint. Good- 
night. We shall meet to-morrow, I hope." 

"I'll see you to your door," said I, and accompanied her to 
the main hatch, down which I watched her descend. 

A middle-aged woman stood on the lower deck looking up. 
I rightly supposed her to be the matron. The ladder that 
sank to the 'tween decks was a wide flight of white wood steps 
with a single handrail. A dim sheen of swinging lamps came 
sifting to this large yawn of hatch — large despite the two grat- 
ings which were now upon it, and the crowding heel of a wind- 
sail whose white leg was blowing like an escape of steam to 
the mad swaying of the outstretched phantasmal head of it. 


Kate looked up with a smile and passed out of sight, and I 
walked to the cuddy with a design of calling for some supper. 

All the women were apparently below ; the decks ran for- 
ward dark and deserted, but I saw the figures of seamen in 
the fore shrouds against the stars coming down from furling 
the topgallant sail, and I heard the voices of men aloft stow- 
ing staysails, and the calling of men on the forecastle to others 
out on the jib boom. The cuddy was in darkness. I sang 
out, supposing there might be somebody about or in the 
pantry. Brigstock was busy with the ship on deck, the man 
Joe, as I reckoned, having gone forward to help the watch. 

I entered the captain's cabin, and feeling on the shelf found 
the matches, and lighted the bracket lamp in the berth, then 
the cuddy lamp. The pantry was next to the captain's cabin. 
The lamp swinging abreast threw plenty of light into it, and 
in a few minutes I stepped out with both hands full of things 
to eat — ^biscuits, cold pork, and a piece of boiled fowl. I judged 
by these remains that Brigstock and others had used the cuddy 
for eating in, though perhaps not for sleeping in. I sought 
again in the pantry for something to drink, and found a vinegar 
jar with a drain of rum in the bottom of it. There was noth- 
ing more in the shape of spirits, and no beer, but the rum 
made me a drink when I mixed it with fresh water from a 
decanter in a bracket over the cuddy door. 

The lee lid of the skylight lay open, and while I was eating 
Brigstock put his head through and called down : " Ye're 
right to make yourself at home, sir. There's more wind 
a-coming, I think, and I'm waiting to get the mainsail off her 
before I join you." 

I gave him a nod, and went on eating. 

The state of a man's mind is a tedious thing for another to 
read about, but even though I had the wish to weary you I 
should be little able to express the confusion of my thoughts 
while I sat lonely in that cuddy, supping. The sailors were 
hoarsely bawling on deck, the wind was whistling and groan- 
ing and hooting like a theater full of maddened people, and 
the white %eti% poured from the cleaving stem of the driven 
ship in a sound like thunder. I had grown tolerably familiar 
with my new extraordinary situation ; my talks with Brig, 
stock, my view of the uhip, had made a pretty real thing of it to 
me ; the dreamlike character it had taken at first was passed. 
Yet now, when I thought of Kate Darnley, the whole passage 
seemed a wild, romancing vision again, something I should 
awaken from to find myself with Blades, or even with Cadman, 
and all between sheer nightmare. 


However, I began to see clearly after I had swallowed the 
rum and eaten some food. It was certain I was in the power 
of the crew, and that was to be kept steadily in mind by me, 
as assuredly it would be by them, in all that was going to pass 
between us. But I bit the salt pork with the savageness of a 
wolf when I thought of the trick Brigstock had played me, the 
lies he had told, the indignity of my imprisonment, his inso- 
lent indifference to my rights and convenience. Then with 
the fancy of Kate Darnley all became dreamlike again. 

By and by the noise of men up aloft and on deck ceased ; 
the ship, eased of the pressure on high, took the seas buoy- 
antly, with now and again a sharp, hail like rattle forward when 
a weather lurch of her forging bow flung a bucketful of brine 
crisply inboard. I heard Brigstock call to Joe ; a few faces of 
seamen now showed and vanished at the black cuddy windows. 
Presently Brigstock came down by way of the companion, and 
shaking a shower of crystals off his coat, he chucked his hat 
down and said, " I hope you found all you wanted, sir?" 

" I have done very well." 

"There's young Gouger as'll be willing to help aft here 

when things get settled," said he. "Yer read about the 

steward in the log book, didn't jer ? Gouger can lay a cloth 

, and bring a dish from the galley, and that's nigh all that's 

wanted. Did jer find anything to drink ? " 

" A drain of rum." 

**We broke out a cask of bottled ale a day or two ago. 
There's some left in that cabin," said he, pointing. "Shall I 
fetch you a bottle ? " 

" No, thanks. But I'd be glad of a pipe of tobacco." 

He pulled out a clasp knife and a plug of Cavendish, then 
going to the cuddy door, he called to a man, waited till he had 
done his errand, then returned with a clean clay pipe. While 
I was chipping a pipeful of the black tobacco into the palm 
of my hand he said ; 

" Mr. Morgan, will you set us a true course ? This sort of 
sailing's mere rambling." 

"Where are you bound?" I exclaimed, coolly striking a 
wax match and lighting my pipe. 

" To put it straight," he replied, with the merest shadow of 
hesitation in his manner, " we're going for the South Pacific." 

" What part? The South Pacific's a big ocean." 

" Well, it mayn't be the South Pacific either ; it might come 
to what we want a-lying north o' the equator. But anyhow, 
all this aside : our course is for the Horn. Will you make it 


I instantly resolved to do so, since nothing could J)ossibly 
come of stipulating at this moment, up here, too, on the 
equatorial verge of the South Atlantic, seeing how the man's 
determination pointed. I pulled off the soft gray wide-awake 
and the slop jacket I had come aboard in, and, going to the 
captain's cabin, overhauled the chart bag and found a track 
chart of the world. This was good for my purpose. I recol- 
lected the situation of the Caroline at noon on the preceding 
day, and could guess the present position of tbe Earl cf 
Leicester close enough to save me bothering with the stars. 

When I came into the cuddy with the chart and a pair of 
compasses I found three seamen besides Brigstock standing at 
the table. They were bare-headed, and saluted me respect- 

" Mr. Morgan,*' said Brigstock, " these men don't ask your 
pardon for being here, though there'll be no intrusion upon 
you when once the border and procedure of the voyage is set- 
tled. We view ourselves in the light of a republic ; every 
man's as good as his shipmate; but of course all are resolved 
for the gen'ral welfare to obey orders and behave theirselves 
as men. More'n a man there's no need to be in this here 
world. This," said he, pointing to the active, wiry, crumple- 
faced young fellow with the large mustache, who was at the 
wheel when I came into the ship, " is Isaac Coffin ; this here," 
he continued, pointing to a fat, staring sailor with pig's eyes 
and hanging chops like a monkey's bags, " is Jupe Jackson ; 
and that man," indicating the dark, high-colored fisherman 
fellow, " is Bill Prentice — three out of twelve of us. The port 
watch has gone below. These men attend on behalf of the 
ship's company. You want our yarn and we want your 

He pulled a globular silver watch from the band of his 
breeches, starting it with an effort, and bringing it out like a 
cork, and looked slowly and gravely upon it as it lay in the 
hollow of his hand on a level with the bottom button of his 
waistcoat. " It's a little arter one bell," said he. " Well, it 
can't take us long to square this here circle, and the ship's 
a-going along snug enough. Will you give us a true course 
for the Horn, Mr. Morgan ? " 

" Hold this chart open," said I. 

I made my calculations and named ^Jle course S. W. by S., 
guessing that that would do till I had found the ship's true 
position. Brigstock stumped with his solemn gait up the 
companion steps, from the top of which he roared out, " How's 
her head ? " 


An indistinguishable reply like a half-smothered bark came 
dimly to my ear. It happened that the course I had given was 
the course within a quarter of a point the ship was being 
steered on ; there was no need, therefore, to handle the braces. 
Brigstock came to the table. 

" Now, sir," said he, " if you'll be good enough to sit down, 
I'll tell you exactly what us men's intentions are." 


brigstock's scheme. 

I SAT as requested, lighting my pipe afresh ; the tobacco, 
being thick-cut and damp, yielded a long smoke. I felt 
nervous on a sudden. But the swing of the lamp threw a fre- 
quent shadow over my face, which I knitted into a hard, 
resolved expression, a thing not difficult to manage when you 
have plenty of eyebrows and slack, sailorly hair upon the brow, 
and when there's no hurry to speak or act. 

The others did not ofifer to sit; they stood in the light 
watching me or Brigstock, who leaned with one hand upon the 
table, and leisurely and gravely motioned with the other while 
he addressed me. 

" Perhaps," said he, " it'll be best to say right off what our 
scheme is. There's a good many little islands in the South 
Pacific unowned and uninhabited. Some lies near the 
hequator, some in more temperate climes, where the air's 
sweet as new milk, where little or no clothes is wanted, and 
where there's a whole boilin* of a Covent Gard'n Market in 
one hacre o' soil. Think of what's to be found and cultivated: 
fish and cocoanuts and burnaneys and breadfruit, vihapples, 
oranges, sugar cane, yams, and sweet potatoes. Aint that 
good enough ? " 

He looked slowly round at the three men, who responded 
with an emphatic nod. 

" Nature is man's father and mother. She gives him bam- 
boos for bricks, and the cocoanut's his rum cask and his oil 
can. Us men's scheme is to choose a good, unowned island 
down in them seas, and settle upon it along with certain 
females in this vessel who've agreed to be our pardners in the 

He paused to observe the effect of this. I sucked my pipe 
and eyed him in silence, head back and arms folded. 

"Of course you're aware," he continued, "that there's 


nothen original in our scheme ? Others have hacted in a like 
way, and they've proved the glory of Britannia, as witness the 
United States of America, which was long a dependency of our 
nation ; also Australia and Port Louis ; Berkeley Sound was 
colonized twenty odd years ago by Lieutenant Smith and six 
or seven seamen, who built houses and growed radishes, onions, 
and flowers. Yer'U have heard of the Spanish colonel as set- 
tied one of the Galapagos. He called it Floriado. When I 
was off it in 1838 the population had rose to three hundred. 
They sold us fowls and pigs, and they growed maize and sugar. 
Had they been English they'd ha' throve. That there colonel 
was an old fool. 'Stead of colonizing with steady, hard-workin* 
respectable gells like them we've chose, he loads out o* the 
gutter, manures his rock with everything that's godless in pet- 
ticoats in Guyaquil, then takes and plants a shipful of prison 
weeds in the choice soil and tarns in to dream of 'arvest. 
You're not going to get any building to stand upright long on 
mud and slime. Mix your scheme with the vartues if you 
wants good concrete and a solid foundation. Aint that right ? " 

The seamen looked as though, having on former occasions 
expressed their opinion on this point, they considered the ques- 
tion addressed to me. By this time I had judged that Brig- 
stock was a man who enjoyed hearing his own voice, who 
also had a high opinion of his flow of language — one of your 
respectable, mulish, perhaps religious seamen, sullen, slow, 
and stiff, with obstinate and absurd convictions, but of rude 
powers of mind, and capable of influencing, at all events, such 
sailors as I might judge composed the remainder of the 
original crew of this ship. But I also perceived that he had 
the forecastle project very clearly defined in his brain, and 
that I was called upon to deal with a man who had made up 
his mind. 

" Your intention," said I, " is to settle an island — when 
you've discovered something that suits you — in the South 
Pacific ? " 

" South or north." 

'' You have found women among the emigrants willing to go 
ashore and live with you ? " 

" That's so." 

" Are all hands of you agreed in this ? " 

" To a man, sir," he answered with solemn energy. 

" How many females do you intend to take ashore with you ? " 

" Why, twelve, to be sure — ^a wife for each man," he answered 
in a raised voice, slightly accented by indignation, and some 
blood colored his face. 


" What do you mean to do with the ship and the rest of the 
people ? " 

" We've given that our serious consideration," said he. 
" The ship's not to be hurt. The safety of the females left 
aboard has to be provided for. Mr. Morgan, here's our offer : 
navigate us to the island that '11 suit us ; the ship's then yourn 
to do what you like with. D'yer ask who's to work her? 
Who but Kanakas, which we'll put jer in the way of filling 
your fo'c's'le with before we part." 

The secret fears I just now called " nervousness " were by 
this time changed into tingling astonishment. It was clear, 
anyhow, no villainy was intended — nothing, I mean, that 
might correspond in rascality with the stratagem that had 
brought me into the ship. The fat seaman whom Brigstock 
called Jupe Jackson exclaimed in a queer female voice : 

" How are we to know that the capt'n mayn't fancy our 
scheme and be willing to settle down along with us ? " 

" Ha ! Why, of course," said Brigstock, " should you arter 
a bit see your way to make one of our colony, Mr. Morgan — 
and I notice you've already found a party on board as might 
be glad to take up with yer — then it'll be for us to consider in 
what way the ship and the remaining females are to be sent 
to a port." 

" There's a-plenty of whalers as 'ud be glad to take the job 
in hand," exclaimed the man Bill Prentice. 

" Wives for the askin' and piles o' salvage money to keep 
'em on," said the wiry mustachioed seaman Isaac Coffin. " If 
whalemen han't changed since I went a-fishing they'll need 
no coaxing." 

" Do I understand," said I, " that after you and the women 
who accompany you are landed you'll hand this ship with her 
cargo and remaining passengers over to me to sail to a 
port ? " 

" To do what jer like with, I said," answered Brigstock. 

" It's onderstood," said Coffin, " that we takes out of her 
what o' the cargo our colony '11 need^? " 

" They'll send a gunboat to carry you home and lag you 
for piracy and other crimes if you meddle with the goods in 
this ship," I exclaimed. 

"I'm not of that opinion," said Brigstock after a pause. 
"We'll have a claim on the ship for wages. 'Stead of taking 
our earnings up in money we pays ourselves off in goods. 
Where's the piracy ? Put us twelve men's wages together say 
for four months, and call the amount fifty pound a month. 
There's then two hundred pound a-howing. We don't want 


cash ; we takes it out in goods. D*jer call that piracy ? Let 
the owners send our wages to the people the goods are con-, 
signed to. That's my way of looking the job over fair from 
crown to heel." 

I searched his face as he leaned across the table to dis- 
cover by any twinkle of eye, by any twitch of mouth or curl 
of lip, that he knew he talked nonsense. But his countenance 
was as fixed and sedate with mulish and monkey-like com- 
placency as though it had been a figurehead likeness of him. 
I had no intention to argue. 

" Did you men sail from London with this scheme in your 
head ? " I asked. 

"No. It's come along of our washing about here with 
nothen to do, and talking with the women," answered Brig- 

" In less than ten days' time all twelve hands of you have 
lighted upon this fancy of a little Pacific commonwealth ? " 

" Commonwealth's the word, and a good word it is," said 
Brigstock, glancing with a leer at his mates. " Aye, it's all 
come in ten days, and the job's as ready for launching as if it 
had been in hand ten year." 

** Are any of you married men ? " said I. 

" Joe Harding's got a wife knocking about somewhere at 
home, I onderstand," answered Brigstock, seating himself. 
" But if his yarns are true she's not a sort of party that any 
right-minded man would allow himself to be hindered by in 
detarmining to become one of the fathers of a new constitoo- 

" Does the woman who is willing to become his partner know 
he is married ? " I asked. 

" Sartingly. I asked Bill here to find out, and she said Joe 
had told her at wanst." 

" Do you expect to find a clergyman on your island ?" said I. 

" I onderstand your meaning," he answered, smiling slowly 
and gravely at Jackson. " It's agreed that I'm to be president. 
The president of a republic combines, as the sayin'is, the func- 
tions of the priest as well as the magistrate. What's a parson 
at home ? They aint all made, jer know, by what's called con- 
secration. My powers as a priest '11 be the same as any shore- 
going parson, whether he's consecrated or whether he aint. 
Why ? Because I shall be helected by the voice of the com- 
munity whose hinterests I'm to represent, so that whatever I 
do '11 be the expression of their minds. My hacts *ll be law. 
Why ? Because they'll be the construin' of the meaning of the 
people. I can marry 'em and I can divorce 'em. It was done 


down at Pitcairn and at Tristan, and it stands good. Every 
nation makes laws for itself. D'jer disput 'em ? Then it's for 
the police t' find out why jer do. That's how we've put it to 
the females here. They become as lawfully the wives of the 
men I marry 'em to as though the Harchbishop of Canterbury 
had settled along with us and read the sarvice. So when we 
gets ashore I divorces Joe Harding from the woman he's left 
behind him. He's satisfied, and his pardner's agreeable. 
Therefore, Mr. Morgan, the customs and laws and regulations 
of what you rightly call our commonwealth having been estab- 
lished, what's the difference in principle between my divorcing 
of Joe and his being divorced by a judge in England ? " 

The fat seaman' J upe listened with a stupid face of staring 
attention ; Bill and the others followed the speech with snig- 
gering appreciation. For my part I was amazed by the man's 
gabbling fluency, which I was forced within myself to own was 
not wanting in sense either. 

" I don't think," said he, regarding me earnestly, and feeling 
in the breast pocket of his coat, '* that my views are to be 
heasily upset. Settle a shipload of men and women upon an 
island, and the laws they make for themselves are the laws 
of their country, which all who visit them must respect. Aint 
that right ? " 

I nodded, wondering now what the hour was and what reso- 
lution I must form with regard to the command of the ship. 
It was blowing with no more weight, yet the wind came hard. 
The dance of the sea was angry, and the roaring under the 
bows struck aft with the plunges in short thunderous shocks of 
sound like the bursting of a sail. The windy moonlight ran 
like a sheet of white silk thrown and then withdrawn upon the 
skylight glass. I hardly knew what sail the vessel was under, 
and my instincts as a seaman were teasing me to go on deck 
and take a look at the weather, and see how things stood with 
the vessel. 

"Now, Mr. Morgan," said Brigstock, viewing a spectacle 
case he had pulled out of his pocket as though he could not 
recollect his motive in producing it, " we should very much 
like to have your opinion of our scheme, sir ! " 

The seamen looked searchingly at me : one as he lay swing- 
ing over the back of a chair, the others as they swayed side by 
side at the table; one with his hands buried in his breeches 
pockets, the others with arms akimbo, limbs of yellow flesh 
hard as rocks with muscle, and garnished with twenty wild and 
barbarous devices in prickings — the crucifix, the mermaid, the 
bracelet, the heart, and other forecastle poetic savageries. 


" My opinion ! *' I echoed. " Tm an honest man, I hope, 
and you shall have an honest answer. Your notion of colon- 
izing a South Sea island is good, and worth encouraging. 
Let British civilization spread ! especially in waters where the 
black man's dinner is often still the white man. And you too 
are honest, Mr. Brigstock, eh — ^you and the remaining ship's 
company ?" said I, looking at the seamen. " You don't want 
my opinion on this project ? " 

" Shouldn't have asked it otherwise," answered Brigstock. 

" Then do your duty as English seamen first," said I, " by 
which I mean that you've got to see the women in your 'tween 
decks safe ashore in the land the ship sailed for ; then turn 
to and colonize as hard as you can." 

Jupe Jackson looked quickly and with temper in his little 
eyes at Brigstock. Prentice and Coffin spoke together ; 
Brigstock lifted his hand. 

" We can't spoil our plan," said he very respectfully, and as 
solemnly as if he was talking to me across a dead body, '' be- 
cause your notions of dooty don't exactly tally with ourn. 
There's twelve of the females us men's going to provide for. 
All the hinconvenience the others *11 be put to '11 arise from 
their being kept at sea a little longer than they expected. 
But then, d'jer see, afore we make the island we want it might 
happen that other parties '11 be glad to jine us in a motherly 
and sisterly way to help in the work all around, without, of 
course, considering themselves servants, providing the pard- 
ners we've chose are agreeable. Supposing that : then here's 
a colony that '11 provide at the start for maybe twenty or thirty 
females who'd otherwise, for all jer to know, come upon the 
poor rates and raise the cost of livin' in Sydney. Aint that 
good enough to keep the rest who stops in the ship a bit 
longer at sea than they bargained for ? " 

" It's not answerable " said Coffin cockily. 

" Another matter," continued Brigstock, putting on a pair 
of strong magnifying glasses, and standing up under the light 
to read from the side of an old newspaper which he had 
drawn out of his pocket carefully folded in canvas. ** The 
notion of most of the parties below," said he, stooping his 
head to look at me over his spectacles, " is that they'll not be 
a week ashore afore they'll be all swallowed up in marriage. 
I've sounded 'em ; it's their idea. Ninety squatters, a-wallow- 
ing in wealth, '11 be waiting at the dockyard gates for these 
females to land in order to court and carry 'em off to hupcountry 
palaces. What's the truth ? Here's a piece we found in a 
paper that belongs to one of the men named Snortledge; 


I've read it to many of the women. Some it hinfluenced — 
twelve sartingly, and perhaps more" — he slowly smiled at 
Prentice ; " unfortunately there's but twelve men." 

Then, clearing his throat with a strong cough, he read the 
following : 

" Viewed as a marriage market, New South Wales must at 
present be set down as decidedly and shockingly bad. A 
speculative young woman emigrating without capital in the 
hope of securing an establishment for life will no more suc- 
ceed than would the young man without funds make a live- 
lihood by coming out as a squatter. The reverses of the 
colony made men cautious, and they continue so. Strange to 
say, too, the well brought up and pretty maidens of the middle 
and servant classes of Sydney do not appear to be much 
sought in marriage. Yet it is undoubtedly in these classes that 
the well-known preponderance of males exists. The single 
men do not want wives, and the responsibilities and encum- 
brances of family life. They prefer working hard, working like 
slaves for four or five days, and larking the rest of the week ! " 

He dropped his head to look at me again over his spectacles. 
I had listened with attention, for there was truth in every 
word of what he had delivered, and all the while I followed 
him Kate Darnley had run in my head. 

" It's reasonable enough," said he, " that parties going out 
to a new country mainly to get married should be quite 
willing to pick up with respectable men as they go along." 

He carefully refolded the newspaper, stowed it away in its 
canvas cover, and pocketed it along with his glasses. 

" Aint it about time that Mr. Morgan here should tell us 
what he means to do ? " said Coffin, who had been pulling 
hard at his mustache, and making nervous grimaces with his 
eyes, vulgarly arch with looks of low humor, fastened upon me 
while Brigstock read. 

" Yes," I answered quickly, " but bear this in mind : I've 
been in this ship since noon only, and have but heard of your 
scheme within the last hour. I'm not to be committed to 
a heavy responsibility without reflection. If I voluntarily 
consent to command the vessel I become one of your number, 
and I'd like to consider all that your resolution means before 
I settle with you." 

" Make no mistake about one thing," exclaimed Brigstock, 
gravely wagging a forefinger at me : " when we was left help- 
less — that's to say, without a navigator in this ship — vartually 
we were as much discharged as though we'd stepped ashore 
and been paid off." 


" I don't think so," said I. 

" Well, then, I'm sure of it," he cried with some show of 

" Isn't a ship's crew discharged when she goes ashore and's 
wrecked ? What's the difference between a vessel being hard 
and fast on the rocks and a ship like ourn a-washing about 
helpless ? " said Prentice. 

" It's as I say," continued Brigstock. " We've been dis- 
charged from the articles by what the underwriters would term 
the hact of God. We can't go ashore in the middle of the 
ocean, can we ? Then, having a ship under our feet, we've got 
a perfect right to sail her to any spot we may select as con- 
venient to land on." 

This was a sea lawyer ! one of your rare hands who will 
play the deuce with a captain's nerves, and just the sort of 
philosopher to dominate a crew and make the sailors see things 
exactly from his point of view. 

" You talk of hunting for an island in the Pacific, north or 
south," said I. " How long do you mean to take to find it ? " 

"Oh, we'll carry on, we'll carry on," answered Brigstock. 
" She's got heels, has this ship. We shall have the island 
aboard us in three months." 

" Easy," exclaimed Coffin, with an impatient twist of his 
wiry figure. 

" There are above a hundred souls on board," said I. 
" You've already drunk up a good deal of your fresh water, 
I guess. What stock's left ? " 

" Plenty," answered Brigstock. " I allow that Captain Hal- 
crow never intended to touch at the Cape. The stock that's 
a-going to last from the Thames to New South Wales is 
a-going to last from the Thames to the South Sea. What's 
the difference ? It'll be only putting her off west 'stead of 
east when the latitood's run down, with islands to rise every 
morning arter a bit when the Horn's sunk well astern." 

" I advise you to count your gallons over again, Mr. Brig- 
stock," said I. 

" You're the scholar of this ship — we'll leave that to you, 
sir," he answered respectfully. 

" I'll give you a reply in the morning," said I, getting up. 
" I hear no bells. They should be kept going. What's the 
hour ? " 

He pulled out his watch and answered, " Half-past nine." 

I pulled on my coat and put on my hat, designing a turn on 
deck, for somehow I felt that I could think more clearly out 
in the wild freedom of the windy, starry night, with its flying 


moonshine, than down here in this horizon of elegant panels 
and creaking bulkheads. 

" Let it stand till to-morrow, then," said Brigstock. " It's 
but right jer should have time to meditate a bit. Jupe, there's 
no rum, and the capt'n '11 be wanting a nightcap. Jump for a 
lantern, my lad. All the spirits are in the lazarette, Mr. Mor- 
gan. The hatch is padlocked and I've got the key, but it's 
yourn when your mind's made up. You'll see your way, I 
hope ? What's the meaning of it but this : You're to put us 
in the road of getting ashore ; the ship's then to be handed 
over to you. I'm no swearer," he continued slowly and 
deliberately, **but I could take a big oath " — here he let his 
heavy fist fall upon the table — ** that a fairer, straightfurruder 
offer than ourn was never before made to a man, and that 
never in all the maritime hannals in the likes of such a trav- 
erse as this will jer hear or read of a crew of sailormen with 
honester sentiments and uprighter meanings than's in this 

I nodded that he might know I heard him, and went up the 
companion steps. 



It was blowing a topgallant breeze. Large shadow-like 
wings of cloud were spreading across the moon, and the bright 
stars shot through the rush of dark stuff as though all between 
was a race of meteors. The flight of the ship through the 
night was a stirring and splendid picture; at every courtesy she 
piled the water to her spritsail yard ; the dusky line of the 
ocean throbbed clear and hard against a spectral, airy, green- 
ish dimness, but under the moon the long black forms of seas 
glanced in lines of pale light. 

I walked to the break of the poop lost in thought. The 
black shape of a seaman trudged to and fro near the wheel, at 
which stood a second figure. The main hatch windsail was 
wildly working and yawning like the struggling wearied ghost 
of a giant under the main yard ; half the hatch lay open as 
before, buried in darkness. 

I stood looking at that black oblong of hatch, slowly form- 
ing a resolution ; marveling likewise, as with an undernote of 
thought, at the deep human significance this rushing and 
streaming ship took from the crowds of sleepers in her black 

THE WOME^r. 123 

heart. Had the souls of the slumberers combined into a 
spirit for her that she should take the seas in that spurning, 
topping, feverish way, as though she knew what her load was 
and its trust in her ? Often had the ships I'd sailed in seemed 
live things to me, but never was ship so living as this that 
night and then. 

Half an hour after I had left the cuddy Brigstock came up 
the ladder and told me he'd put some wine and spirits in the 
pantry ; they were to be for my own private use, he said ; he 
added that the men continued on their regular allowance of a 
tot of grog a day, which was all he meant they should have. 

** When I starts my commonwealth," he sung out to me, 
slanting his figure to my ear, '^ there'll be no drink. Hintoxi- 
cation '11 stand next to murder as a crime. I'm for mixing the 
vartues well in ; my scheme's to stand." He then bawled, 
" George ! " 

The fellow, who was walking aft, came along the deck. 

"I'll take charge now," said Brigstock. "This gem'man I 
hope 'II be our capt'n to-morrow." 

The man touched his forehead, looking at me hard in that 
pale flying light. He then went forward, and Brigstock made 
a step as if he would have me join him. But I had heard and 
talked enough. In an offhand way I said, " Am I to use the 
captain's cabin ? " 

" Sartinly. If you take command you'll make yourself wel- 
come to what's inside it, I hope — merely as borrowings ; every- 
thing used can be handed back when you've carried the ship 
to a port. These here clothes I've got on I found in the mate's 
berth. My own chest's not well enough off to rig me out in a 
style proper to command that sort of respect which my situa- 
tion aboard hentitles me to." 

" Good-night," said I. 

" We shall have your answer in the morning ? " 

" By eight o'clock," I replied. 

I went straight to the captain's cabin and turned the light 
up to shake the mattress and look round. I had noticed some 
boxes of cigars in the locker while imprisoned ; I took one ; it 
was a good cigar, and the smoke and fragrance of it soothed 
my excitement. 

My situation was indeed extraordinary. Yet before I had 
quitted the deck I resolved to take command, though to hold 
my peace till the morning that my importance might gain by 
the crew's anxiety. I was largely influenced by the presence 
of Kate Darnley. But for that girl I don't know that I should 
have been quick in deciding. The past had come strongly 


upon me while I considered what to do ; I lived again with her 
at Blathford through her holiday time there. She had passed 
out of my mind when she left, but this sudden, unexpected 
meeting gave a sharpness to all the lines and tracings of 
memory. It is always so : you know a man slightly in your 
own country ; he slips out of recollection ; you meet him 
abroad, the farther away the better for the sentiment of recol- 
lection ; scores of trivial things come back, and there may 
spring up a lasting friendship between you. Meet the same 
man at home and you'd pass him by. 

Kate Darnley's being on board was like an eloquent separate 
appeal to me to take charge of the ship. Then there was the 
safety of the crowd of poor women to think of. I judged I 
had no need to fear the men. The situation had come about 
quite honestly. There had been no violence, no mutiny. 
Certain disasters had left the ship's company without a navi- 
gating head. They had thought their condition over and de- 
cided to people an uninhabited island, of which, to be sure, 
there was no lack in those days in the seas they wished me to 
steer them into. The women who had agreed to settle down 
with them doubtless knew what they were doing. What sort 
of lot was to be theirs in Australia ? In a South Pacific island 
they might flourish into a free, happy, and prosperous com- 
munity. As to marriage : Brigstock was right when he implied 
that the patriarchal government of Pitcairn and Tristan was 
all himself and followers needed. Besides, how long would 
they need to wait for the heroic missionary with his blessing of 
legitimacy ? 

Thus ran my thoughts while I smoked the cigar, sometimes 
sitting, sometimes taking a turn about the cabin, once opening 
the door to listen, having caught the sound of men's voices 
singing out, and the echo in the planks of coils of gear flung 
down. I never questioned if I refused the command that 
Brigstock would get a navigator by such another stratagem as 
had decoyed me. And how would the crew use me then t 
Would they transship me and so enable me to start the first 
propelled pennon we signaled after them ? 

Being thirsty, I took a match and stepped into the pantry, 
where I found some bottles of claret and brandy, and they had 
filled the vinegar jar with rum. I knocked the head off a 
claret bottle and drank half a tumbler of the wine ; it was a 
cool drink and smelt like a nosegay. I then ate the remains 
of the cold chicken, and thus refreshed went back into my 
cabin, where I lighted a second cigar, resolved to make the 
very best of the state I found myself in. 


Nothing stirred in the cuddy saving the leaps of the shadows 
with the abrupt swing of the lamp when the ship came in a 
reeling heave to windward, then fell along on the slant of the 
under-rushing sea, with a forest full of whistlings and wild 
beast cries in her rigging. I caught all sounds through the 
lee open lid of the skylight, and knew by them and by the play 
under foot that the ship was doing a fair twelve under the 
meteoric dance of moon and stars mid the break of the sweep- 
ing shadows. 

Brightening the lamp, cigar in mouth, I nicely overhauled a 
second time the contents of this sea bedroom. The chronome- 
ters were by a renowned maker ; the sextants costly, shining, 
beautiful instruments ; all the mathematical gear of the best. 
Everything essential to the complete equipment of a navigator 
of those days, when, of course, the sea science lacked the exqui- 
site mechanic expression it now possesses — though I allow you 
no more skill in the mariners of to-day — was here. Alas ! the 
dark hours of poor Halcrow's passage home would gather a 
deeper dye from thoughts of his property gone adrift, perhaps 
never more to be heard of. 

I opened the log book and went through the entries, and 
again looked at the ship's papers and tried to reckon the value 
of the property in the hold from the particulars I glanced at. 
Was it the wine or was it the imagination inspired by the con- 
tents of the tin box ? It is sure my spirits were at this hour 
of six bells in a little dance. By my heart ! thought I, but 
here, in this morning's treacherous entrapment of me, have I 
found such a professional chance as, not having the wits to 
conceive it, I should not have known how to pray for ? If 
I safely bring this fine ship to port what should — what must he 
my reward ? Surely nothing less than the command of her 
next voyage ; not to mention my claim as salvor. And then, 
thought I, there is Kate Darnley. And then there is Kate 

I yawned and laughed, put out the light, kicked off my shoes, 
and sprang into my bunk. Yet wearied as I had imagined 
myself, I lay awake for an hour, and when I fell asleep I 
dreamt that, being alone with Kate Darnley in the ship, I 
found Cadman in hiding under the cuddy table. He made off 
with Kate in a quarter boat, and I gave chase in the JSarl of 
Leicester. He drew me to the Great Salvage Island, then 
vanished, and the ship went ashore. I landed, and the first 
sight I beheld was Mr. Fletcher of Bristol hanging on a gib- 
bet on the spot of cliff over whose edge he had hurled me. 

1 was aroused by the strong shivering light. Looking 


through the porthole I saw the long seas, of a soft blue, lifting 
in flashes and chasing gently ; the curl of them showed a fail- 
ing wind. My porthole was a disk of brilliant morning. I 
peeped into the cuddy and saw the ordinary seaman Gouger 
wiping down a bulkhead. I asked him to fetch me a bucket 
of salt water, and he complied as briskly as though he had 
signed under me. 

After a refreshing soapless sea wash I pulled on my slop 
wide-awake, got into my slop jacket, and went through the 
cuddy door on to the quarter-deck. It was like turning a 
corner into a busy street. Five or six seamen were washing 
the decks down, scrubbing the plank and sluicing the bright 
brine out of buckets. I looked aloft ; the ship was clothed 
in canvas to the trucks ; the yards were braced a little forward 
on the starboard tack ; the weather clew of the mainsail was up, 
and the vessel, slowly bowing, was moving like a body of sun- 
touched vapor over the waters. 

It put new heart into my resolution to take command when 
I saw how faithfully the ship's duty was being carried on, 
lords of themselves as the crew were ; the sight gave me a 
high opinion of Brigstock's influence and power of mind. A 
great number' of women were on deck — perhaps forty or fifty. 
I glanced swiftly here and there for Kate Darnley. Standing 
in the doorway of the cuddy, shadowed by the ledge or break 
of the poop, under which, exactly over my head, was a clock 
indicating the hour of seven (guesswork time, of course, see- 
ing they had been eleven days without an observation), I was 
not for some time noticed. The women stood here and there 
looking out to sea, or talking, or marching up and down 
abreast, and some ten or twelve were walking upon the fore- 
castle. I observed that the men bade them get out of the 
road in the blunt speech and manner of the ocean ; there was 
no familiarity in their manner of calling to the women, no 
laughter, no "chaff." They went on with their work as though 
the taut eye of a chief mate was overseeing them from the 
break of the poop, and the women would step aside to get out 
of the way of the water or the scrubbing brushes without any 
of those airs of alley or area coquetry you might have expected 
in females of their class when addressed by men, and when 
all were in a situation unrestricted by quarter-deck government. 

I found on now looking that I had been right in supposing 
the women's ages to vary from eighteen to thirty. Some were 
delicate pretty girls ; others coarse and heavy-featured. One 
who stood not far from me was pale and flabby faced, with a 
goddess' figure. Hard by stood one of your rolling, saucy, 


hand-on.hip, laughing girls, with white teeth, and a dark, 
sharp, darting eye. You'll easily get the picture by figuring 
two score or so of cooks and housemaids, domestic servants of 
a superior sort, here and there a woman whose looks sug- 
gested the milliner, here and there a woman with drawn, com- 
templative, pale face, of a ladylike figure, hinting at the gover- 
ness ; conceive these on the deck of a ship moving in groups 
out of the way of the men who are washing down. 

The shawls, bonnets, hats, and gowns were of many fabrics, 
shapes, and tints ; most of the girls, it seemed, had come to sea 
in shabby finery. They flew feathers ; Brummagem fal-lals 
danced in their ears, and brooched and pinned and even 
ringed some of them ; and though they had been in one 
another's company for weeks, and by this time probably knew 
exactly the nature and extent of one another's wardrobes, 
they'd still glance critically at a passing figure, eye her from 
hat to heel, look from her to their own dress with downward 
sweeping glances, all critically, as though, by Heaven ! they 
were taking the children for an airing in the park ! as though 
the giant Life Guardsman was close at hand ! as though, for- 
sooth, all were well with the ship — captain and. officers hearty 
and alert, the voyage as jolly as a drive to a tea* garden for a 
romp there ! 

But it's always thus with women : the troubles they find 
hardest to bear are those they expect. 

As I stepped out of the cuddy door the female whom Kate 
Darnley had called Hannah Cobbs, the matron, mounted the 
hatch ladder, and looking up at the poop, nodded and smiled 
and kissed her hand. I supposed there was some friend of her 
sex there, and making three or four steps forward, I took a 
backward peep, but saw no one save Brigstock, who was stand- 
ing at the head of the poop steps. Good mercy ! thought I, 
is it possible that she*s his choice ? 

Her age was about forty ; her thin bile-darkened face was 
striking because of its long, lean, high-perched Roman nose ; 
her eyes were a pale green ; her lips a mere stroke ; her fore- 
head bare even to the suggestion of baldness, but upon either 
cheek and against either ear there sat a substantial curl of 
black hair like a beer bottle with its neck hidden. She was as 
flat as a wall up and down her, respectably attired in a large 
bonnet and a gray gown whose cut from the waist was the out- 
line of a candle extinguisher. 

She came out of the hatch and went toward the galley. 
Brigstock, seeing me, called out, "Good-morning, sir." I 
answered with a flourish of my hand, and went along the deck, 


looking here and there, for I wanted to see the ship. But by 
this time I was perceived by the girls, one of whom, a strange 
little figure, very short, slightly hunchbacked, with a humor- 
ous squint and a tight twist of scarlet hair at the back of her 
head under her hat, approached me in a sort of jumping walk 
across the deck, and planted herself in my path. 

''Are you the capting, sir?" she cried, speaking harshly 
and thickly with a cold in her head. 

" Not yet," I replied, with a look round at the women, who, 
fifteen or twenty of them, were gathering about me even in the 
instant of the red-headed girl's accost. 

** We was. booked to go to Orstralia," she exclaimed, ** and 
I s'y it's a beastly shame that we aint to be taken there all 
along of our having no orficers and the commiii sailors findin' 
creatures — women I'll not call them — willing to take up and 
settle down with 'em in parts which isn't in our way at all. 
What I s'y is this," she continued, with a fiery nod of her 
head at every word : '' if we aint to be took to Orstralia sail 
us back 'ome." 

" Miss Cobbs ! " bawled Brigstock from the break of the 
poop, " there's Miss 'Arvey at her old joke of worritin* again. 
Clear the road for the capt'n, will 'ee. Miss Cobbs ? He can't 
answer no questions. And won't the ladies let him walk for 
his hentertainment ? " 

" Take us 'ome, I s'y," screamed Miss Harvey at Brigstock, 
with such a lift of hump and butting poise of head as trans- 
formed the poor soul into the unsightliest woman I had ever 
seen. '' If yer don't mean to sail us to Orstralia take us 'ome. 
That's what I s'y. Is there e'er a woman here savin* them I 
won't be so demeaned as to name that wishes to be carried into 
parts that aint in the way we settled and paid for ? / know 
the law ! " she screamed. " We've got the perfickest right to 
expect the new capt'n who stands here listenin' either to sail 
us to Orstralia or carry us 'ome." 

" Do you 'ear what Miss 'Arvey says ?" cried out a strongly 
built young woman, with a scowling hanging face and the 
looks of a Jewess with her lemon cheeks and thick eyebrows. 
" He call hisself a man ! " she yelled, pointing in a most 
insolent, derisive manner at Brigstock, and then bursting into 
a loud hysterical laugh. " We ask to be carried to Australia 
or took 'ome. Why don't him and his dirty sailors do it?" 

"Now, Miss Harvey, and you, Miss Marks, we don't want 
any trouble, and least of all noise, \iyou please," here exclaimed 
Miss Cobbs, the matron, thrusting in with the decision and per- 
emptoriness of a female warder, speaking and looking indeed 


with an air as though she had learned her art in a prison. Her 
voice was high, keen, and penetrating, and she stared as though 
she felt a power of control in her eyes. " The females in this 
ship have no call to make any trouble of what has happened. 
What's come about is not owing to Mr. Brigstock or the sailors. 
All who hear me know that this ship has been unable to make 
any progress since we lost sight of the vessel the captain went 
into. We are now fortunate in meeting with a gentleman who 
will help us." She sr^nk me an old-fashioned courtesy with a 
smirk anc! a coy droop of the eyelids. " If there are parties 
who intend to be set on shore before they reach Australia 
their v/ishes have nothing to do with those who desire to get 
to New South Wdes. Perhaps, sir," she exclaimed, addressing 
me, " you will kindly tell these young persons that Australia's 
just as easily reached by the passage of those seas in which 
the sailors and others hope to settle themselves as by the 
ordinary course round the Cape of Good 'Ope," 

" There are more roads than one to Australia," said I, 
struck by her volubility and readiness. 

The women had gathered around in a crowd, of which Miss 
Cobbs and I formed the center. Wherever I glanced I met 
the gaze of dark eyes, blue eyes, brown eyes; some soft, appeal, 
ing, timid, others on fire with curiosity and wonder, others 
fretxnl and distrustful. But who can find terms for the sub- 
tleties of v/omen's faces ? 

" What I s*y is, fust land us girls in Australia, them as 
wishes to get there," exclaimed Miss Sarah Harvey, fastening 
her humorous squint upon the matron, though her posture and 
looks wholly belied the suggestion of mirth in her perfidious 
eyes, " and then the others may do as they jolly well please." 

" Make room for the gentleman to see the ship," exclaimed 
Miss Cobbs. 

I pressed forward and drove clear of the poor girls, who 
broke up as before into parties, though they now talked loudly 
and confusedly. Brigstock, who had watched the proceedings 
on the main deck from the poop, called to Miss Cobbs, who 
instantly turned and went to him. Here and there a sailor, 
stooping at his work of coiling, scrubbing, swabbing, as it 
might be, would lift his head and eye me askant, but always 
respectfully, I thought, though I found an uneasy anxiety and 
curiosity in two or three of them. Those I had not before 
seen seemed decent, quiet men, much such as had swung in 
the forecastle of the Caroline, 

There yet remained a good store of live stock in the ship ; 
the coop was half full of poultry, some pigs were styed under 


the longboat, and in the longboat were a number of sheep. 
I looked into the galley ; it was large and clean, and furnished 
for the needs of many souls. The cook, as I supposed the 
man to be, stood with his back to the door, talking earnestly 
to a woman. She listened to him with her arms folded, and 
with a smile of affectionate attention. Her sharp black eyes 
above his shoulders saw me peering in ; she touched his bare 
arm, and he turned to look at me. I passed on, tasting a strong 
smell of cocoa and baking bread in the wind, and gained the 
forecastle. A few women walking here eyed me earnestly, 
and looked as though they must speak ; but I put on a figure- 
head of a face, keeping my eyes steadfastly bent seaward, and 
they held their peace. 

A small ba(k was in sight on the weather bow, heading 
away from us, close hauled, into the north and west, too far off 
to speak, though I thought I saw a spot of color at her gaff 
end. She showed like some winter fancy of frost in the blue 
air, with sparkles upon her dead whiteness as of the colored 
lights in snow upon ice. She was sliding along fast, and was 
probably a Yankee, bound from round the Horn to a port in 
the States. 

Being wishful so to view the Earl of Leicester as to get that 
sort of notion of the fabric which was to be obtained by look- 
ing at her at a distance, I sprang on to the bowsprit and got 
out on the jib boom end, where, catching hold of the stay, I 
hung some five or ten minutes gazing aft. A noble, inspirit- 
ing sight ! Faraway beneath me the metaled fore foot, bright 
with yellow sheathing, was shearing through the clear blue 
brine ; the white water coiled away from the glittering stem 
in very hawsers of foam, their strands of glittering snow open- 
ing fingerlike as they raced aft ; the breeze was failing, but 
it was still a wind ; the sunlight streamed full upon the canvas, 
which swelled in breasts of cream past one another, crowding 
a wide space of the brilliant morning sky, to where the gilt 
balls of the trucks invited the gaze to the pearly spaces of the 

I had a clear view of the decks under the arch of the courses, 
and saw the women walking on the quarter-deck, and Brig- 
stock watching me from the weather side of the poop, and the 
helmsman right aft rising and falling against the blue line of 
the ocean, with much lovely tinging of the many lustrous 
colors by the play of the shadows. Such a smart little ship as 
she looked from that jib boom end, with nothing lacking but 
an after quarter boat, the horizon, risen by my altitude to 
midway her mizzenmast, defining her into a very miracle of 

THE WOMEN^, 131 

toy-like minuteness with its background of soft heaving blue ! 
But what is there in ink to give you the spirit of what I saw — 
the salt smells of the ocean that sweetened it, the swell that 
gave a rhythm and the wind a music to it, the soaring sun in the 
east that glorified it ? 

I slided inboard, went down the forecastle ladder, and 
walked aft. Brigstock crossed to the lee side of the poop, and 
bawled out in his grave note, " What d'jer think of her, sir ? " 

I answered with a nod of appreciation. You need not go to 
sea long to learn how to talk to a sailor without speaking to 

A little crowd of women had gathered at the galley door, 
all with a sort of big hook pots and tin dishes ; it was break- 
fast time for the 'tween decks, and those girls were the mess 
women for the day. I liked to see this discipline of Dr. Rolt's 
time kept going ; it spoke well for Brigstock and the matron, 
for all hands indeed. 

As I made my way aft, curiously but silently eyed by those 
whom I passed, I saw Kate Darnley. She stood close to the 
foot of the poop ladder. Beside her, as though the group had 
been conversing, were three or four of the few refined-looking 
girls ; the word for them would have been "genteel " in those 
times. They drew away as I advanced, lifting my hat with a 
shore-going bow. Kate's face was in a glow at sight of me. 

" I looked about at once for you," said I, holding her hand 
somewhat demonstratively, that all who watched us might 
understand she was. my friend. " Come on to the poop. I 
don't like to think of you as making one of this muddle of 
slaveys and shop-joys. You must have a cabin in the cuddy 

" No," she answered quickly and with resolution. " Favor- 
itism of that sort would create ill feeling. But we can talk of 
that by and by. Are you in command ? " 

" Not yet." 

" Why not yet ? " she exclaimed. " What are we to do 
without you ? " 

I looked at the clock over the cabin door and said, " I have 
yet ten minutes to decide in. I promised Brigstock " — here I 
glanced up and saw him overhanging the rail looking at me — 
" an answer by eight. What shall I tell him ?" said I, smiling 
into her eyes, which had grown spiritless with her changed 

"Advise ! You must take command, of course. Don't you 
know the horrible situation we are placed in by being without 
officers ? I don't mean only the helplessness of the crew, who 


know nothing of navigation ; the men have found women who 
are willing to settle down on an island with them, and their 
intention is to hunt about for a suitable spot without caring one 
jot," she cried with some passion, " what becomes of those who 
are left in the ship." 

" I know all about it," I answered softly and soothingly. 
" ril take command if it's only because you're on board. And 
you and I will arrange," said I, still softly, with another glance 
up at Brigstock, " when the fools of seamen and women have 
left the ship, to carry her into safety." 

" Mr. Morgan," sung down Brigstock, " aint it eight bells 
yet ? " 

" Just upon it," I answered, " and I'm ready for you. We'll 
meet again shortly," said I to the girl, whose eyes were alight 

She went to the main hatch for her breakfast in the 'tween 
decks, and I stepped into the cuddy. 



The table was prepared for breakfast. Nothing could be 
more seasonable as a picture to a sharp-set man than Gouger's 
spread of ship's beef, preserved mutton, biscuit, cheese, and 
ham. Brigstock overhead called out for Joe Harding to lay 
aft, and, " Bill," he shouted, "give an eye to the ship, matey, 
while we breakfasts." 

After a few minutes he came down the companion along 
with Joe Harding at the same moment that Gouger entered 
by the cuddy door with cans of coffee and cocoa for us. Brig- 
stock stalked up to me, Harding close behind him, and look* 
ing grimly, so severe was the gravity of the fellow with the 
anxiety in him, he said in a low, level, preaching voice, " Well, 
sir, how's it to be ? " 

** It's eight bells and I'll tell you," said I. " I accept the 
command of this ship." 

They both looked — Joe's sneering whiskered face just be- 
hind Brigstock 's long, formal, grave countenance — as though 
they did not believe their ears ; both men then smiled, and 
Brigstock said, " Mr. Morgan, give me your 'and." 

I shook hands with the man ; Joe Harding then extended a 
large cold fist, which I also shook. While this was doing I 
5»w, in the gorner of my eye, the ordinary seaman Gouger, who 


Stood in the cuddy door, flourish his arm, and a moment after 
I heard some cheering and laughter in the neighborhood of the 

" I'm glad indeed, and truly indeed am I glad," exclaimed 
Brigstock. " Eh, Joe ? What a lot of messing about that lit- 
tle word * yes * often saves ! Capt'n, we're here to breakfast 
with you this morning to talk matters over. Afterward it's 
for you to give orders as to how things are to be carried on 

I seated myself at that part of the table where Captain Hal- 
crow had been struck blind, Brigstock opposite, where Dr. Rolt 
had been killed, and Harding alongside of him. The move- 
ment of the ship was gentle, the cuddy full of light, and the 
warm sweet wind of the sea gushed in through the open sky- 
light with a humming sound like the moaning of doves. We 
fell to, and while we ate and drank we discoursed thus : 

" I'm to carry this ship," said I, " to an island in the 
Pacific ? " 

" That's so," exclaimed Brigstock. 

" Have you no island of any sort in your head ? " 

" We must hunt for what we want," answered Brigstock. 

" We shall know what we like when we see it," said Harding. 

" Did you ever chance to cast your eyes upon a chart of the 
North and South Pacific Ocean, starting from about a hundred 
degrees of west longitude and running on to about a hundred 
and thirty of east longitude ? It's all islands, Mr. Brigstock, 
there, from the parallel of 30° S. to the same latitude north : 
a mighty big field to pick and choose from." 

" Why, yes ; putting it that way so it is," he answered with 
his mouth full of preserved mutton; " but now you're in charge, 
sir, with a knowledge of them seas " — I shook my head, but he 
went on — " and good charts aboard, there'll be no difficulty 
afore we're up to the Horn in settling upon a corner of that 
field, as you rightly tarm it, to hunt over. No call to chase the 
whole ocean. It's climate fust. That carries soil and all 
else we've got in our minds along with it." 

** You go ashore," said I, " with a number of women who 
have never in their lives, perhaps, slept unsheltered. How do 
you mean to stow them till you can build a roof for their 
heads ? " 

" That's what we mean by climate," said Harding, wiping 
a smear of cocoa off his sourly curled lips with the back of 
his hand, that was of the very color of the stuff with weather 
and the tar bucket. " The climate's all the roof that's needed 
till a village is built. What are we to be told ; that poor sav- 


ages with nothen on fit to be took notice of can sleep sound 
and keep their health under the stars, and hearty English- 
women all wrapped up in good clothes an' strong as cows are 
to sicken for the want of shelter ? " 

" No call to talk o* shelter," said Brigstock. " How much 
temporeery roofing may a man get out of a spare fore top- 
sail ? " 

" To come to the business of my command : what's to be 
the discipline with regard to the emigrants ? " 

" It can't be bettered," exclaimed Brigstock. 

" I believe that^ always providing the crew keep clear of the 
women's quarters and interfere with the girls no more than 
they did in Dr. Rolfs time." 

" Then they'll interfere with them less^* exclaimed Harding, 
with a sour nod. " Don't go and suppose, sir, that the doctor 
was all eye. Our choice is our choice ; there'll be no inter- 

" Trust our pardners to see to it ! " said Brigstock, with 
a grave smile. 

" I've had all night to think the matter over," said I, " and 
I can find nothing to stipulate for. Wheit you leave the ship 
you give her up to me and the rest is my affair. Is that so ?" 

" AH so," exclaimed Brigstock with emphasis. 

" It's my intention to sail her to Sydney when you've landed. 
I shall want men to work her." 

" We'll pick up a crew of Kanakas as we go along," said 

** That's possible. What put this scheme of settling an 
island into your head ? " said I, looking at Brigstock. 

" Well," he answered, pronouncing his words very deliber- 
ately, " for a-many year now it's been a sort of passion of 
mine to start a new constitootion. It was never one of them 
rich and shining fancies which lead a man out of his plain 
walk of life in chase ; but things happenin* as they've done 
aboard this ship, all hinnocently contrived, everything, fallin' 
out in the lawful and correct course of accidents, why, the 
occasion being come, I grasped it, sir, and I put it to my 
mates as a splendid hopportunity to free theirselves from the 
galling restraints of civilization and the hardships of having to 
work for four-and-twenty hours a day in frost and wet and 
muck for two pound ten and three pound ten a month. They 
seed it as I seed it. There was to be no wrongdoing. We 
put it to certain of the females. It was like giving them new 
hearts. They jumped with delight. Worn't it so, Joe ? 
Didn't that there Nell Wilde of yourn cut a caper or two when 


you offered yourself ? What was it they was to be given ? 
An 'usband and a 'ome apiece, a pick o' acres, nothen to do 
but to develop the settlement — instead of what ? " He paused 
with a grimace of deep disgust. " Why, instead of being 
menials and slaves in a new country, a-drudging in Australia 
as they drudged in England, grate cleanin', floor sweepin*, hup 
at cockrise, bullied by a mistress as might have been a 
convick ! " 

He spoke with a slight twang in his nose, and suggested the 
Sunday street corner ranter. I watched and listened to him 
with interest. Long as I had used the sea I had never met 
quite the like of such a sailor as this, though I had been ship- 
mate with some pious, respectable, worthy fellows too in my 

" Have you ever read about Fitcairn Island ? " said I. 

He smiled and said, ** Often. I could give you the yarn of 
that there mutiny and settlement off by heart. Old Adams is 
my model in this here scheme.*' 

" I guessed as much," said I. ** You choose Adams in 
preference to Fletcher Christian." 

" Recollect what Christian was shot for," he answered. 
" D'jer remember the description the parties as met with them 
islanders gave of the settlement : how Adams' daughter, a 
fine handsome girl, clothed slightly, like a female in a play, 
stood waiting on the top of a hill for the men-of-war people to 
land, and how she led 'em through groves of cocoanut and 
breadfruit trees to a beautiful, picturesque little village. 
Them's the words of the yarn if my memory aint astray. Ha," 
he cried, fetching a deep breath, " haint that description 
fetching enough for the likes of such folks as us and our 

" The whole twelve of you, then, are of one mind ? " 

" Aye. Twelve strands all laid up into a rope of resolu- 
tion ! " 

" Do they and the women realize what they surrender by 
living on a lonely Pacific island ? " 

" Surrender ! " cried Brigstock, whose dark eyes began to 
sparkle with animation. " Yes, sir. They realize that they 
surrender the grog shop and the dancing room, the Sails, and 
Sukeys of the Highway and the out ports, the crimp who drugs 
and the owner who drowns men, and the capt'n and mates, in 
whose eyes the sailor's a scoundrel dog, meant by Almighty 
God to be kicked and cursed and starved, too vile to be 
prayed for, so that he never hears a prayer, good only as 
a skin full of bones, which are to be worked and bruised and 


chilled and starved through his rag-covered flesh till they're 
only fit to be tossed overboard with a stone in the hammock 
clews, and not a creature in the wide world to tell you whose 
child he was. Oh, yes, we all know what we're a-going to 

I was astonished by the man's rude eloquence, and judged 
of its influence upon the crew by observing how it worked in 
Joe Harding, who, when Brigstock ceased, threw an empty 
pannikin at the cuddy door, and, withouts peech, fetched the 
table a savage whack with his fist. 

" But it aint surrenderin' only," continued Brigstock ; 
*' we're all sick of what we means to give up ; so are our 
pardners. Aint there to be never any change for a man ? 
Often when I look at a clock I say to myself. Why are them 
hands always a-going round the same way ? Is time to be 
read only in one fashion? No sensible man can think of 
custom without feeling ill. We're born naked and the rest is 
habit. I'm for a constitootion where habit shall be all nature 
just as the baby's all nature. Likewise I'm for founding the 
religion of my constitootion upon 'Oly Writ. What's a Chris- 
tian nowadays ? Aint he a cove that believes in everything but 
what's to be found in the Bible ? " 

" It's the sameness that's killing ! " exclaimed Harding. 
" Every day's like a shilling, and a bad un at that ; head one 
side, tail t'other ; whichever side ye tarn it, there it is ; head 
or tail." 

"It may end in your joining of us, Mr. Morgan," said 
Brigstock. " I see you're already beknown to as nice a little 
party as there is aboard." 

" She's a lady, the daughter of a clergyman, an intimate 
friend, driven by poverty into crossing the sea for bread. 
Her being in the ship increases my anxiety as to the behavior 
of your men." 

" I assure you, sir," he exclaimed earnestly, " there's no 
call to be in the least uneasy." 

" More like t'other way about, I allow," said Harding. 
" It's us as wants protecting." 

" What's the discipline ? " I asked. 

" We've kep* to the doctor's lines," answered Brigstock. 
" The females breakfast at eight, dines at half-past twelve, 
and get their supper at half-past five. Miss Cobbs, the 
matron, as she's called, is a fust-rate 'and ; everything under 
her moves as soft and quiet as ile. She was born to help a 
man to start a new constitootion. I fancied her the hinstant 
I saw b^r, She's my pardner in this here traverse," said he, 


viewing me gravely. He added, " More'n I'd got a right to 
expect as a plain working man, whose looks aint perhaps quite 
what they was twenty years ago." 

I held my face steady, though with difficulty. An inoppor- 
tune smile must be a perilous thing with men so consumedly 
serious as those two fellows. 

" None of the crew, I suppose, are ever allowed in the 
women's quarters ? " 

" None. Not likely. All twelve of us has got the same 
as a wife there. D'jer think I'd relish hearing of my mates 
cruising about in the dark below in the neighborhood of Miss 
Cobbs ? Every man haint got the same tone of voice, but we 
can all sing out when we're hurt. What's my poison aint 
going to prove meat for Joe there. You take it, Mr. Morgan, 
that if your young pardner was ashore under her father's 
roof she couldn't be safer than she is here." 

"And perhaps not so safe," exclaimed Harding gruffly, 
" if you're to believe all that's told of what happens in them 
country vicarages. Not long afore we sailed some chap at 
the house I lodged at read a piece in a paper about a parson's 
daughter as had been run away with by a nobleman's footman. 
She shammed it were his doing when they was brought up 
charged with pawning the church silver. But letters was read 
in the court house a-proving beyond argeyment that both 
parties was equally willin'." 

" Well, then, sir," exclaimed Brigstock, making as though to 
leave the table, " it's onderstood that you take charge of the 
ship ? " 

" Aye, setting those ashore who wish to leave her, and then 

" The course now to be headed is straight for the Horn," 
said he. 

" It's the road to the South Seas. I shall want to get at the 
ship's stock of provisions and fresh water." 

*' Say the word and it's done, sir," said Brigstock. 

"We'll start at half-past nine." 

"There's nothen to keep me here, I thijik, is there, Mr. 
Brigstock?" said Harding, who, on getting a shake of the 
head from the other, left the cuddy. * 

" Mr. Morgan," said Brigstock after looking at me for 
a few moments very earnestly, " you now perceive that our in- 
tentions are hinnocent an' honest ? " 

" There's nothing to find fault with. I'm not for holding 
that you're still bound by the articles, seeing how things are, 
but I doubt if the lawyers would let you touch the cargo." 


" We'll take for our necessities only, and the value shan't 
exceed our wages. 'Sides, shan't we have saved the ship for 
the owners by putting you in command and working her till 
Australia's almost aboard?" Then, finding me silent, he 
said in his low, level, deep voice, " Mr. Morgan, in giving you 
this trust, us men of course have full confidence in you." 

** I'll carry you to the South Pacific, where it's for you to 
find an island. Nothing more's expected t " 

" Nothen." 

" From me, I mean. From you I shall want this : the women 
must be as faithfully and jealously protected as though armed 
sentries were betwixt them and the forecastle." 

" The men know my views, and they'll larn yours," said he. 
" I tell you, sir, there's nothen to be afraid of in that way." 

I gave him a nod, and, our conversation having ended, he 
went on deck and I stepped into my caBin. 

I lingered lost in thought, my eyes fixed on the sea that 
swept trembling, brimful of light, past the circle of cabin 
window. I had reflected long and passionately before decid- 
ing, yet now that I had accepted command the responsibility 
weighed upon me as though it had been new and violently 
sudden. But I was content; I had charge of a fine ship, and 
it would be my fault if the post proved barren. I might be 
the instrument for rescuing a great crowd of poor women from 
a situation of enormous peril ; I should probably be the means 
of preserving a noble vessel ; I had good reasons to hope that 
the men would prove decorous in their relations with the 
'tween decks ; and concern for their own safety and their reso- 
lution to carry the ship into the Pacific should go the whole 
length of keeping them obedient. In a word, I was satisfied. 

One thing, however, was plain: I must quickly settle the 
whereabouts of a suitable island, for I had no notion of keep- 
ing this ship full of women cruising about in search of a site 
for a forecastle Utopia. 

Being without a watch, I went on to the quarter-deck to see 
what o'clock it was, and found the hour just half-past nine. 
The women had long ago finished breakfast and nearly all of 
them were on deck, sitting, lounging, flitting ; their tongues 
wagged ceaselessly. Here and there sat one with a book. 
Three of them were talking to the same number of sailors on 
the forecastle. I guessed them >^pardners," as Brigstock 
called them. 

Kate Darnley stood alone to leeward of the main deck ; she 
was upon a coil of rope which raised her head above the rail, 
and she was looking down at the wreaths and bells of white 


foam now languidly streaming past. The heavier canvas was 
hollowing in to the bowing of the vessel with light reports like 
the explosions of smallarms up aloft. 

The women stared at me very hard, many breaking oflF in 
their speech. The female with the club nose and merry cast of 
eye approached with protest and passion strong and hot in her 
face. To escape her I went on to the poop, and when from the 
break of it I looked forward so as to take in the ship, Kate 
Darnley turned and saw me. I pulled off my hat, and going 
down to leeward, called along the line of bulwark rail, " I hope 
to join you by and by." She gave me a bow with some color, 
and I noticed that many of the women looked at her and 
spoke one to another, evidently " making remarks," as they 
call it. 

Brigstock stood near the wheel talking to the man at it. 
Before singing out to him I sent a glance round the ocean ; 
the bark had vanished — nothing was in sight. I reckoned that 
the failing of the breeze might signify the speedy breathing of 
the trade wind. Southeast it was a bit hazy, with fibrine lines 
of cloud-like rays of light, and white as milk in the shining 
morning, striking out of what I judged might be a bank of 
vapor invisible in the dimness. Yet the wind hung still to the 
north of west, scanting ^ven as I stood looking, and the slop- 
slop of the water lifting to the side and falling back was a sure 
sign of an approaching lull. 

Brigstock now coming to me, I told him to get the fore and 
main hatches open and call Joe Harding aft to keep a lookout. 
But before entering the hold I desired to inspect the 'tween 
decks ; accordingly, followed by Brigstock, I descended the 
wide main hatch ladder and entered the women's quarters. 
Under and round the hatchway there was plenty of light, but 
the fore part was so gloomy that the sight fresh from the day 
failed to easily determine outlines. 

I found here what I had not expected to see : a row of 
plain, white, bulkheaded cabins, rudely put together, such as 
you'd find in a troop ship of that day ; they ran on either hand 
halfway along the 'tween decks ; the ship's sides then lay 
exposed, scaffolded with sleeping shelves in double tiers. 
Down the center betwixt the cabins and open bunks ran a 
narrow table framed with rude benches of deal plank on short, 
sawed-off timber uprights. The smell of the newly sawn wood 
still lingered. 

A few women were sitting at the table, two of them writing, 
the others sewing. After I had stood a minute looking around 
Miss Cobbs came out of the first of the cabins on the port 


side. She ducked me a courtesy, and then looking at Brig* 
stock exclaimed : " Thomas, I hope we may now call the gen- 
tleman captain ? " 

" Yer may, 'Annah," answered Brigstock, taking her sharp 
elbow in the yellow hollow palm of his hand as she came and 
stood beside him, rubbing shoulders with a cat-like slope of 
her figure. " It's now Captain Morgan of the Earl of Leices- 
ter. There's to be nothen in the past to discomfort our satis- 
faction, and the future's to be hall plain sailing." 

" Miss Cobbs, I shall count upon your helping me to keep 
the routine of Dr. Rolt's time going tautly as it was worked 
when he was alive," said I. " I pretty well see what the rules 
are. Let everything be sweet and clean down here. Miss 
Cobbs. Turn the women up regularly to air their bedding. 
You're skipper of this part of the ship ; I look to you to help 
us along through a very queer dilemma." 

"Captain Morgan, you may depend upon my doing hevery- 
thing that lies in my power," she answered with a mincing, 
finical, " superior" air, while her mere line of mouth parted in 
a maidenly smirk as she looked at me, letting her eyes wink 
down my figure. 

I was too much in earnest to suffer any old fooling and what 
I may call sausage-curl coquetry in Miss Cobbs, and began to 
question her sharply and sternly. I wanted to know her 
methods, what were the rules as to the washing down of the 
'tween decks, at what time of day and how often the bedding 
was aired. I'll not trouble you with the questions I put to 
her ; she answered me intelligently and respectfully, shrewdly 
and swiftly appreciating my earnestness and attitude of com- 
mand. Brigstock listened with a grave smile ; the man ap- 
peared both impressed and pleased. The women at the table 
ceased to write and sew to hearken to us. 

While I talked a couple of seamen came below and opened 
the hatch which conducted into the hold ; it lay, of course, 
right under the main deck hatch. I meant to see more of the 
'tween decks, however, before going into the question of the 

** Let me look at those cabins," said I. 

Miss Cobbs threw open the door of her own berth. This 
interior had been specially fitted up for the matron and con- 
tained a single sleeping shelf and the conveniences of a bedroom. 
The other cabins were larger, and each contained a couple of 
shelves for the reception of six women. The shelves were 
divided into three by coamings or thin strips of plank that 
each sleeper might rest clear of her companions. 


" Where does Miss Darnley sleep ? " said I. 

" In the fore end yonder, sir," answered Miss Cobbs. 

" Upon an open shelf there ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

'*Why should some have cabins and some open shelves 
when all should fare alike? " 

" I don't know. This is how we found the ship fitted, but 
the open shelves are the beds most favored. The women 
don't like being boxed up, more particularly when it*s hot like 
now. There's been a great deal of uncomfortable feeling 
caused by them open shelves there. 

I walked slowly forward ; the women at the table rose as I 
approached. One of them, a tall, fair, dough-faced girl with 
amber hair, and pale blue eyes, and a willowy figure, and large, 
red hands, eloquent of the grate and the doorstep, exclaimed in 
a trembling voice, *' I beg your pardon, sir; if you're the new 
captain may I ask a question ? " 

" Now, Miss Dobree," whipped in Miss Cobbs, her clear, 
hard voice shearing betwixt me and the girl with an actual sug- 
gestion of the cutlass in the steel-like sweep of the tone past 
the ear, '* Captain Morgan is not here to answer questions ; 
he's merely come to look round." 

" What do you wish to say ? " J exclaimed. 

" What's to be done with us, sir ? " answered the girl, and 
even as she spoke her eyes bubbled. 

" I shall carry you to your destination," said I. " Presently 
I'll call representatives of you aft and reassure you, I hope. 
Don't cry ; it's all right." 

*• The wrong's this," exclaimed a young woman at the other 
side of the table, a powerfully built person of some eight-and- 
twenty, wild with thick black finger-swept hair and heavy e/e- 
brows, but coarsely good looking, with a sort of taking charm, 
too, in the mutinous glare of her black eyes, richly fringed and 
steady in their stare as a portrait's : " here's Miss Cobbs 
paid to look after us, and she's one of the first to go over 
to the sailors. Oughtn't she to know better? Aren't the 
years she's come to called the age of discretion ? " She looked 
with audacious scorn at Miss Cobbs. 

" Hold your saucy tongue ! " cried the matron. " My powers 
are none the less because things are not as they were when wc 
sailed. You'll do no good to yourself by insulting me. Get 
on deck and cast your swinish temper into the sea." 

The young woman muttered to one of her companions, and 
then laughed passionately. Miss Cobbs took no notice, and 
we walked into the fore part of the 'tween decks. 

14^ THE EMlGkAl^T SHIP. 

Here the interior had the look of a prison. I once boarded 
a convict ship at Hobart Town, and the fittings of that vessel 
reminded me of what I now saw. A girl was asleep in a bunk 
in the starboard lower tier ; her hair had been loosened with 
the friction of the pillow ; it lay upon her brow and neck in 
such a shadow or dye of raven blackness that by contrast the 
white face looked like light itself. Miss Cobbs spoke. I 
whispered, " Speak soft." Never before had the sense of the 
sanctity of sleep been keener in me. Miss Cobbs whispered 
that the girl had complained of a splitting headache ; well or 
ill, she looked as if resting in the sweet and touching calm of 
death. No voice now sounded in those 'tween decks ; nothing 
was to be heard but the creaking of the bulkheads ; in that 
brief pause, vexed only by the weak, fine-weather noises of the 
fabric, I viewed that lonely sleeping figure. Lonely she looked. 
Not that she was lonelier than the others, but her solitariness 
was made appealing by her lying there asleep, and by her being 
the only figure in those rows of shelves. Whose child was she ? 
What were her hopes ? 

If ever ship needed a commander this was she ! Poor Kate 
Darnley! thought I, glancing round the scaffolding of bed 
places. To be sure, it would be misery for the refined, well-bred 
lady, the woman of instincts fastidious with breeding and edu- 
cation, to suffer and sicken in such a dungeon-like glimmering 
bedroom as this, with its pretty company of the kitchen and 
the scullery regaling one another with area memories and 
recollections of the Sunday evening gent. 

I walked aft in silence, Miss Cobbs in my wake. Brigstock 
stood at the open hatch. 

" We'll deal with the fresh water stock first," said I. 



By half-past eleven I had got at all I wanted to find out. I 
was an old hand at stowage, and knew the art of gauging. 
This was the second time since I sailed from England that I 
had found occasion, for one reason or another, for ascertaining 
the stock of fresh water, and now the stores of victuals. I did 
not choose to trust to Brigstock's report. I crawled about 
the fore hold, then over the water casks stowed under the 
main deck, then overhauled the after hatch, and with a paper 
full of figures and writing rudely scratched by lantern light, I 


went on deck', made for my cabin, where in five or ten minutes 
I washed and trimmed myself, and carried my sextant on to 
the poop. 

While taking an observation I smiled at the eagerness with 
which I was watched by the women. They crowded up the 
poop ladder to look at me ; they swarmed upon the bulwarks, 
more or less gracefully swinging by the rigging. A crowd 
stared from the head of the forecastle ladder. 

On making the hour noon I sung out for eight bells to be 
struck in the usual words ; instantly one of the seamen who 
had stationed himself beside the bell abaft the mainmast 
struck it, and along with the chimes there ran a very musketry 
of hand-clapping, accompanied by a chorus of shrieking 
cheers startling to listen to. Did you ever hear women 
cheer ? Never did I before that time nor since. It was like 
the wailing and crying of a hundred children in pain and terror, 
nothing whatever jubilant or gratulatory in it — the wildest, 
most inhuman expression imaginable of hope renewed and 
pleasure ; something to sound pitifully and frightfully by night 
in one of the deeper hushes of the sea. 

I bade Brigstock put the clock on the cuddy front right, and 
went below to work out my sights and deal with the figures I 
had brought up out of the hold. This business occupied me 
till hard upon one. The quantity of fresh water was far 
greater than I had imagined. It was evident the commander 
had not designed to call at the Cape. 

The discovery pleased me. We should, of course, have 
found no difficulty in filling our water casks, but unless we 
hove to off something barren like the Salvage, discovered a 
fountain there, and rafted our casks for it, the scheme the 
sailors had in hand would certainly be blown by the women. 
At no port would it be possible to keep the Pacific project 
secret, in which case some British consul or other would come 
upon the scene, dismiss me from the command for all I could 
tell, to put a friend of his in my room, dispatch the ship to her 
New South Wales port, and leave me to kick my unoccupied 
heels about till I found an aforemast berth or something of 
that sort. 

No ! The closer I looked into my present situation the bet- 
ter was I pleased with it. In fact I was already as much in 
earnest as Brigstock that he and his company of men and 
women, the rude forefathers and grandmothers of some tiny 
South Sea commonwealth, should go ashore upon an island 
and leave me to manage the rest. 

I marked the situation of the ship upon the track chart, and 


went on deck to look at the weather before eating. The cabin 
table was being prepared for the midday meal by Gouger, who 
» was now to regularly serve in my end of the ship. The table 
looked smart and glistening enough with damask and glass 
and plate ; indeed the equipment of the vessel was handsome 
throughout, down to the littlest particulars. I'd often wonder 
that so smart, well-found a craft should be employed in this 
low trade ; but then those were bad times in shipping ; wages 
were poor, the carrying traffic overdone, freights low. No 
doubt the owners of the Earl of Leicester were glad enough to 
fill her up with a cargo of women and the colonial stores she 

Looking at the table as I passed on my way on deck, I 
resolved to bring Kate Darnley into this cabin, out of the 
twilight and alley chatter of the 'tween decks. Here she would 
feel herself the lady she was. Here she would sit at a breezy 
table under a bright skylight, and eat and drink of all that was 
best in the ship's larder. I was now in command ; I was supreme 
head. My will was the will of the quarter-deck, than which 
there is nothing more despotic the wide world over. Kate 
Darnley is my friend, thought I ; why shouldn't I make her a 
first-class passenger ? 

On gaining the deck I found a calm upon the sea ; the sails 
were beating the masts to the long-drawn rolls of the ship upon 
the swell that had come on a sudden chasing out of the south* 
east. I told Brigstock to stand by for a shift of wind ; the 
mainsail was already hauled up, and there was nothing to be 
done but wait. The women were below at dinner ; up through 
the wide main hatch came the clatter of crockery and the 
shrewd hum of female voices. A couple of women holding 
mess utensils stood at the galley door talking to some of the 
seamen. I stepped to the break of the poop, and after gazing 
sternly at the group, during which the sailors shifted a bit 
uneasily from one leg to another, pulling their pipes from their 
mouths and sinking the animation in their gestures and voices, 
though the girls gabbled without heeding my surveyal, looking 
my way once or twice, but talking with tosses of the head and 
laughter all the same, I called to Brigstock. 

" Who are those women ? " ' 

" That there big un," said he, " with the projecting teeth is 
Emma Grubb, Isaac Coffin's pardner. T'other with the great 
red arms is Kate Davis, Jupe Jackson's choice." 

" Coffin's that man there with the mustache ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

" And Jackson's the short fat fellow with the pig's eyes ?" 

THE '* PARDNERS:* 145 

" That's Jupe," he answered. 

I had nothing to say. Since those women were '' pardners " 
of two of the men who were yarning at the galley door, I could 
not interfere ; the contention of the crew would be that they 
had a right to talk with the women who had agreed to become 
their wives, providing they behaved decorously, and did not 
meddle with the others, and I must look for resistance and 
difficulties I should be mad to challenge if I attempted to 
arrest their intercourse. 

As far as I could judge. Jack had chosen with strict regard 
to his old traditions. There were several pretty women 
among the emigrants. Some of them might have been glad 
to accept the sailors as husbands, and welcomed with delight 
the forecastle scheme of an ocean paradise of capsized customs. 
But Jack, to be sure, must pick out the ugliest and the coarsest. 
Emma Grubb was as rough a wench as ever I saw — and many 
have I seen — a smack apprentice in petticoats ; while Kate 
Davis, with arms as massive as a drayman's legs, and a wide 
spread of fiat, coarsely cut, somewhat meaningless face, framed 
with hair like yarns of coir rope, might have passed as a young 
butcher in his Mary Anna's clothes. 

Yet 'Jack might be right, after all. Those Kates and 
Emmas — not your niminy-piminy, fair-browed lollipops of the 
counter and the servants 'all — are your true mothers for a 
British settlement : broad-backed, deep-bosomed lasses, ugly 
as sin, but hearty as mules ; the proper sort of creatures to 
dig, to hew, to help build, to breed, and to rear. I turned 
away with a laugh after another look ; those arms of yours, 
Kate Davis, thought I, once the halyards were within your 
grasp, would hoist the flag of our country moon high. *Tis 
the likes of you, you beaifty, who do the real work of coloni- 

** D'jer mind letting us know where the ship is ? " said Brig- 

I named the vessel's position. 

" And the course for the Horn ? " 

" Is the course she's heading on," I answered. 

He smiled gravely and turned his dark eyes in a slow, 
thoughtful stare round the sea. Just then it fell a glass calm, 
with a sound in the sudden dying of the wind like a strange 
strong sigh running through the atmosphere ; the canvas came 
in to the masts with a single clap ; it made you think of the 
ship sucking in her cheeks in expectation. In a minute I saw 
a light blue shadow on the sea line off the port bow under 
some cold streaks of lavender cloud there, and as the wind 


came along I watched the trade cloud rising like balls of pow- 
der smoke from the mouths of cannon. The water darkened 
and crisped into wrinkles, and broke in quick flashes, but the 
blue sky was shaded with sailing vapor to pass our mastheads 
ere the breeze took us. 

The wind found us ready trimmed with boarded tacks, taut 
bowlines, the yards well fore and aft, though not " sweated," 
as we say, for I was ever of opinion that to make a good pas- 
sage you must make a fair wind. The women came out of the 
'tween decks when they heard the sailors singing out at the 
ropes, and filled the ship with the life of fluttering colored rai- 
ment and trembling feathers and streaming bonnet ribbons 
like Irish pennants. This was the first of the southeast trade 
wind, and it came fresh in its earliest breath and hardened 
quickly, till at half- past one hands were aloft furling the three 
royals ; the flying jib halyards had been let go, and we were 
waiting till the light canvas was stowed to take the great main- 
sail off her. 

All aslant, the white brine bursting from her weather bow, 
dipping steadily through the seas, which ran with little weight 
as yet, the fine ship smoked through it in her sudden meteoric 
flight, a sheet of spreading foam hissing to leeward, silver fires 
flaming from everything bright upon her decks, her gilded 
globes of trucks shining like stars at each masthead. In that 
time of waiting for the men to haul up the mainsail I found 
myself admiring the picture of that ship as something more 
shapely and glittering, richer in hue, more radiant where all 
was whiteness than any fabric I had ever sailed in or that my 
imagination could have figured. 

I did not leave the deck till I had seen all necessary sail 
shortened. Gouger had reported Tlinner ready half an hour 
before, Harding was left in charge of the deck, and I entered 
the cuddy, followed after a little while by Brigstock, wonder- 
ing when I was to find an opportunity for spinning a yarn with 
Kate Darnley, surprised, too, by the heap of business which had 
kept me occupied all the morning. 

I had taken my seat and was pegging away when Brig- 
stock arrived ; they had killed me a fowl ; that and a piece of 
boiled pork was to supply me with as good a meal as the skip- 
per of a trader was like to get in those days of pig and old 
horse, with a mess of fresh pork at intervals when a hog was 
dispatched. Brigstock stood at the foot of the companion 
steps and said : 

" If it's not your wish, capt'n, that I should eat aft here along 
with you say the word. I'm a plain sailor and no mate ; 

THE '' PARDNERS:* 147 

you're a gemman, and it might be that you'd object to sit 
down with the likes of me." 

I answered by pointing to a chair, and at once helped him to 
some fowl and pork. 

" I may tell you," said he, looking at his plate, " that the 
crew have nothen to say against my eating aft of such vittles 
as is put upon this table. Of course they recognize me as 
mate, and a mate's got a right to live in the cabin. Still, as 
I'm but a fo'c's'le hand myself, I shouldn't feel heasy in par- 
taking of sooperior grub if my mates thought it warn't fair." 

" I respect your shipmatish views," said I, " but you don't 
want me to tell you that all hands can't live aft." 

" No, sir. But my notions of the laws of property don't 
allow of my enjoying what the rest of us aint getting. 
I dorn't say it can be helped here. The only way I can 
reconcile this here living with my conscience and principles," 
he added, forking up the leg of fowl I had helped him to, " is 
to fare just as they do forward. I'll keep this piece of pork, 
this here leg I'll retarn," and so saying he put it on the dish. 

Come, thought I, this, if not an honest, is at all events a/a/> 

" In your new settlement," said I, " all are to fare alike ? " 

" No, sir. A man '11 fare according as he produces. But 
we should all be alike. We're all alike when we're dead and 
aint of no use ; I'm for being alike while we're alive and are 
of use." 

" You'll find that the little potatoes will get to the bottom 
quite in the old manner." 

" Aye, but they're potatoes all the same. Joe or Jim aint 
to forfeit his claims upon us as a man because he aint born 
with Jack's hintellect or Jupe's cunning. You can't have 
a family that's all big brothers. In our settlement we'll judge 
of a man as yer judge of a clock — by his works. Do 'e keep 
time ? We aint a-goin' to quarrel with a man for bein' a three- 
an*-sixpenny Dutch clock 'stead of a sixty-guinea chreenom- 
eter. Do 'e keep time at three an' sixpence ? That's it." 

I saw an argument on politics, religion, political economy, 
and other such things strong in the man's grave face and slow, 
earnest eyes, and changed the subject by explaining how my 
calculations as to the stock of water and provisions had 
worked out. I then said, with a glance at the table, that 
looked very hospitable indeed with the spirits, the wine, and 
the bottled beer which Gouger had set upon it : 

" I mean to bring Miss Kate Darnley to live aft here." 

" Will that be hadvisable ? " he said. 


"Why not?" I asked quickly, ill-pleased with the remark 
that was like running athwart the hawse of my command. 

" Wouldn't it lead to ill feeling? " said he, masticating at the 
rate of about a bite every two seconds. " There's Miss Cobbs. 
She'd naturally wonder if your pardner was here that she 
wasn't called aft too. That 'ud come personal as 'twixt her 
and me. The saliors 'ud say, We don't want to live aft our- 
selves, but our pardners are emigrant folk the same as Miss 
Darnley, no better and no worse so far as her situation goes, 
and we've got nothen to do with her hextraction ; and if Miss 
Darnley's to live and eat in the cabin, our pardners shall take 
up their quarters there too ! They might reason this way ; 
I dorn't say they'd talk so." 

I reflected and said, " You may be right. Yet the services 
.1 am rendering you give me certain claims, and if it's my wish 
that Miss Darnley should live here you and your crew should 

" I beg you won't insist upon it, sir," he exclaimed, helping 
himself to a glass of water — he had drunk nothing but half 
a gill of rum diluted into a pannikinful of almost tasteless 
amber fluid. " All's going along smooth. All's likely to keep 
so. I'm for leaving well alone. 'Sides, would it be the right 
thing for the young party to come and live solitary aft here 
away from the rest of the females ? " 

All the while we talked the women on the quarter-deck were 
coming and going as before at the door and windows, staring 
at us in knots of pale, eager faces. I glanced up at the sky- 
light and said, not choosing to pursue the subject of Kate's 
living aft : 

" Now that the ship has a commander, the poop, I presume, 
is to be kept for the use of him and the mates ? " 

" Aint that as you'd wish it, sir ? Us men are for carrying 
on everything exactly as it was under Dr. Rolt and Captain 

" Are the crew going to grumble if I bring Miss Darnley on 
to the poop ? " 

" No ; she's your friend ; you must talk with her somewhere. 
As master of the vessel your place is aft." 

I looked at the man attentively, and thought to myself : 
there are qualities in that rude, illiterate, unpicturesque sea- 
dog that, unless I mind my eye, will as certainly dominate 
me as they've dominated the crew. Pity for him that he'd 
never learned navigation in his time. What better man to take 
charge of a ship ? He should have hailed from some New 
England Quaker settlement, so slow be was, so wary, exact, 

THE '' PARDNERS:* 149 

yet capable of lying like a pickpocket on occasion, that is, 
when business made demands upon his judgment, though 
skilled in the art of forgiving himself and discovering reasons 
that could never fail to convince his conscience. 

** Mr. Brigstock/' said I, rising, " when this table is clear get 
Miss Cobbs to select certaia women to represent the emigrants 
and let them assemble here." 

** Aye, aye, sir," he answered, and walked straight on to the 

I was half an hour in my cabin ; while there I heard some 
of the women coming into the cuddy. When I stepped out I 
found twelve of them at the table. The first my eye fell on 
was Kate Darnley. Another was the coarsely handsome, 
wild-haired, powerfully built young woman, Alice Perry ; she 
grinned with a very glare of strong white teeth on meeting my 
eyes, and nodded cheekily. A third was Miss Cobbs, the 
matron. She stood at^ the foot of the table, evidently waiting 
for me to appear. 

I stepped forth holding a chart of the world ; the girls eyed 
it as though it had been a loaded blunderbuss. I at once 
shook hands with Kate and placed myself at her side. Brig- 
stock overhead looked down at us through the open skylight. 
The quarter-deck was crowded with women, who filled the 
doorway and blocked the windows, but someone, probably 
Miss Cobbs, had stationed a seaman to guard the entrance. 
He stood doggedly in the doorway with his back upon the 
girls, one of whom on catching sight of me snapped out 
shrilly over his shoulder, "Why aint us all to be let 

I wished to get through this business, and addressed the 
girls at once. 

" There was no need to bring all the ladies in here. You'll 
repeat to the others what I'm going to say. I want to make 
your minds easy as to your ultimate arrival in Australia. I'm 
in charge of this ship, and hope to see my way, when we've put 
Mr. Brigstock and his party ashore, to carry you safely to 

" How long's it going to take ? " asked one of the girls. 

" Miss Wright, you're not to interrupt," cried Miss Cobbs. 

" It's along oiyou that the respectable ones among us are 
being made sick and ill with worriting and anxiety," said the 
young woman Alice Perry, darting a mutinous, flashing look 
at Miss Cobbs, with a sudden projection of her head that 
produced the impression of a leap. " What's the like of you 
got to do with marrying ? You ought to be at your prayers, 


thinking of your soul. You're old enough to concern yourself 
that way/' she added, with a shrill laugh. 

'' Captain Morgan, I must ask for your protection against 
that himpudent woman," exclaimed Miss Cobbs. ^' If she 
persists in insulting me I'll seek Mr. Brigstock's protection," 
and she bestowed a cold, pale, dangerous nod on Alice Perry. 

" Am I to proceed I " said I, looking round at the women. 

'^ She's a saucy, bad-tempered woman, but honest and good- 
natured," whispered Kate. 

Alice Perry got up and came to my side, and said, pointing 
at Miss Cobbs, " Her very looks riles me. She's hated by all 
as aint of her party. Oh, I'm not afraid of you nor of your 
old Tommy Brigstock either," she shouted, looking up at the 
skylight. <^ When I'm in earnest the fur flies, as the cat 

Some laughter in the doorway and windows attended this ; 
the sailor's figure shook, while he hid his mouth with his bare 

Brigstock, who all this while was standing above, shouted 
down, " I'd advise yer to keep a civil tongue in yer mouth. 
I don't want to fall foul of yer, but I'll ask no man's leave to 
protect my pardner from the himperance of such trollops as 

" Oh, dear ! Oh, dear ! Let's hear what the captain has to 
say," exclaimed one of the girls, a mild-looking creature with 
a gentle voice, dressed in well-worn black. 

I unrolled the chart upon the table. " Here's the world. 
Gather around, young ladies, and look for yourselves." 

They came together in a squeeze of eager figures ; some 
were without hats or bonnets ; here and there a cheap ring 
glittered upon a toil-reddened hand. I don't know what idea 
had governed Miss Cobbs in her choice of these women as 
representatives ; it might be that they illustrated the several 
walks of the emigrants. The mild young person in black I 
afterward heard was a governess. 

Pointing to the chart with a ruler, I bade the girls observe 
that the distance to Sydney, New South Wales, by Cape Horn 
was much about the same as the distance to it by way of the 
Cape of Good Hope. 

" Why's the one road always took then ? " inquired Miss 
Alice Perry. 

" Because of the winds," said I. 

She stared at me distrustfully. 

" I've told the young ladies time out of mind that there's 
no difference worth naming in the distance," said Miss Cobbs. 

THE '' PARDNERSr 15 1 

" But we've got to hunt about for an island, haven't we?" 
said a girl. 

" Yes. That won't take long, and a few weeks more or 
less must signify nothing to people in your situation. Why, 
without a navigator in command you might have been blown 
about the ocean for days and days, so ending as never more 
to be heard of." 

"That's quite true, and ought to reconcile us to what's 
happened," said Kate. 

" We hope the captain's telling you something worth hear- 
ing," cried a voice at one of the windows. 

" If certain parties chooses to act like fools, who cares ? " 
said one of the women. " We took passage in this ship for 
Australia, and we must go there and git there, and let them 
who want to live on an island with common sailors hunt about 
by themselves." 

" It'll be base to keep us poor girls at sea longer than 
there's need for. And what the sailors represent aint true 
neither," cried a streaky-faced girl. She was miserably thin, 
and trembled from head to foot with nervousness. " They 
say there's no chance of girls getting married in Australia." 

" Old Tommy read out a piece about it," whipped in Alice 
Perry. " One of them lies yer to believe true 'cos it's in print. 
Ha, ha ! " 

" But Mr. Brigstock's got to discover folks know the truth 
for themselves," said the girl whom Perry had interrupted, 
diving into the pocket of her dress and bringing out a purse 
which she opened with agitation pitiful to behold. " This was 
copied out of a newspaper and sent to me by my uncle." And 
in a high-pitched voice, shivering with nerve, she read out this : 

" Wide Bay and Burnett Districts — The Orphan Girls. 

" To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald: 

" Gentlemen : While the government pretend they do not 
know what to do with these girls, they entirely neglect the north- 
ern and rapidly increasing Wide Bay and Burnett River Dis- 
tricts. On the Burnett, Severn, Dawson, and Boyne rivers 
there is a large entirely male population ; there are not more 
than six women in the whole district, and those have arrived 
within the last six months. If a vessel was dispatched imme- 
diately to Wide Bay with two hundred of these girls I have 
no hesitation in stating the whole of them could be married 
in two months. Yours, etc., 

"A Bushman." 


Her shaking hand dropped the purse, and after pocketing 
it she sank back as though in a swoon. 

'^ ril say again that I don't believe a word of it/' exclaimed 
Miss Cobbs, folding her arms and tightening her lips into a line 
thin as a pen stroke. 

" But we're not all going out with ideas of getting married," 
said a girl remarkable for the burning scarlet of her scanty 
hair. "I'm one of most who thinks only of a situation and 

" Will Miss Cobbs tell us there's no situations to be got and 
no wages to be 'ad ? " said Alice Perry, with a sneer. 

*' I can tell Alice Perry that situations are by no means 
plentiful in Sydney nor in Melbourne neither, and wages not 
one whit better than she can get at 'ome," exclaimed Miss 

"Cooks 'ave twenty-two pound," said the scarlet-haired 
girl, "'ousemaids fifteen, and general servants twenty-six. 
So I was told, and am emigrating in consequence. But I 
think we've been put into this ship only to be deceived and 

I was growing tired of all this. " See here, ladies," said I, 
flourishing my ruler over the chart, " here's the situation of 
the ship to-day. There's Australia, d'ye see? Instead of 
going round to it by this cape we'll steer to it by that. All 
these dots signify islands, and one of them will be the island 
Mr. Brigstock's party want. Mr. Brigstock and I will take 
care to be quick in finding it. Suppose that island's situated 
here," said I, pointing, " look what a straight course we can 
make for Sydney, which is there. We shall procure the help 
we need among the islands, and the ship will arrive at Sydney 
a month or so later than her date." 

I rolled up the chart to let the women know I had nothing 
more to say. They had no notion, however, of terminating 
this interview. They wanted to know if I was captain. I 
answered I was. Couldn't captains do whatever they pleased ? 
No, they could do only what was right. Warn't it my duty to 
sail the ship direct to Sydney and see the women safe on 
shore, leaving those who had taken up with the common 
sailors to find an island for themselves? I answered that one 
condition of my command was that I should help Brigstock and 
his party to find an island and land them on it. If I refused 
to do this the meii would not have me as their captain. 

This raised a hubbub. All talked at once. It was impossi- 
ble to understand the questions screeched at me. I saw Alice 
Perry eyeing Miss Cobbs with a nasty face of temper. The 


scarlet-haired girl flourished her fist, yelping out her questions 
and protests in a voice like a lapdog's bark. The confusion 
was increased by the women on the quarter-deck calling to 
those within. To silence and end it all I told Kate to go on 
deck by way of the companion ladder, and re-entered my 



By and by, hearing nothing, I looked out and found the 
cuddy empty. I went on deck and was immediately accosted 
by Brigstock. 

" There's nothen to be done by reasoning kindly. Might as 
well try to rear a dog on cabbage as to make some of them 
gurls see straight." 

" They want to get to Australia." 

" What's to stop 'em ? I never kept a servant myself, but 
I've always onderstood that cholera's mild as a plague com- 
pared to 'em. If these are the rig'lar style of cooks and 
'ousemaids it's astonishin' the country han't drawed long ago 
upon China for domestics." 

" Does your scheme of a settlement include servants ?" 

" No fear ! All '11 be level and sarvice mutual help. Cap- 
tain," he exclaimed, fastening his eyes with a serious look 
upon me, " it'll make us men feel heasy in hour minds to larn 
that your sympathies han't been courted altogether into the 
'tween decks ? " 

'* Mr. Brigstock," said I with some sternness, ** I was brought 
fraudulently into this ship and forced, as you know, to accept 
this position of command. " I say forced," I added deliberately 
and slowly, " because, though I heard no threats, how would 
you have used me had I declined ? It can matter to no one in 
what direction my sympathies lean. Be you civil and obedient, 
sir, and let your crew act as though they fully understood I'm 
master and not man aboard this ship, and you shall have no 
cause to complain." 

I walked to the break of the poop, leaving him to chew upon 
what I had said. 

The fresh trade gale was blowing a strong and pleasant 
wind ; the hard green horizon ran brilliantly clear, as though 
viewed through a lens, and off the edge of it the trade clouds 
were soaring and spreading, fleecy and silky and flying, like 
blown cobwebs. The seas were rolling in steady lines of a 


dark blue, splendid with the translucent veiling sparkles of 
spray. The ship drove through it with stately steadiness, 
bursting the sea into clouds of snow ahead of her, with rhythmic 
rolls to windward which swung the harmonies of fifty organs 
out of her rigging into the wind. She bore well the canvas 
she had, but she needed no more. 

After I had stood some minutes in silence, waiting for the 
temper to cool in me, I called to Brigstock to get the log hove. 
Some men came aft ; the reel rattled like castanets as Brig- 
stock helped the log line. " Stop ! " roared Jupe Jackson, 
dropping the log glass from the level of his eyes. " Eleven 
and a 'alf !" shouted Brigstock after fumbling at the knots, 
and the line was then dragged dripping over the quarter. 

Eleven and a half on a taut bowline and the royals, mizzen 
topgallant sail, mainsail, and flying jib off her ! This was 
sailing to fit the records of something out of Aberdeen rather 
than a Thames keel. How will I be treated if I save the ship ? 
thought I, with such a momentary glow of spirits as I watched 
the motions of the beautiful vessel that, had I been her owner, 
I could not have felt more pride and delight in her beauty and 

Seeing Kate Darnley on the main deck talking to a girl near 
the hatch, I beckoned and went halfway down the ladder to 
receive her. 

" Can't we talk down here ? " said she. 

" Yes. But the poop's my own territory, so step up, I beg." 

She mounted the steps reluctantly and exclaimed, '' I ought 
not to be where the rest are not allowed. The voyage will be 
very uncomfortable if anything's done to excite the women's 
envy or jealousy." 

I answered that my place was aft, that I might forfeit some- 
thing of dignity if I talked among the women upon the quarter- 
deck, and told her what Brigstock had said on the subject. 
This seemed to ease her mind, and she crossed with me to the 
weather side of the poop, which we forthwith fell to patrolling, 
Brigstock at once stepping to the fore end, where he stood 
watching the ship, sometimes motionless at the head of the 
ladder, sometimes stalking with solemn mien athwart. - 

" You can see the ocean up here," said I ; ** the bulwarks 
hide the sea from the main deck." 

" I'd thankfully live aft," she answered, with a spirited smile 
and a dancing look of kindling pleasure in her eyes, which 
were as bright as health and youth could make them, nay, the 
brighter just then perhaps for the color which the strong wind 
had painted on her cheeks. '* But I'm just a poor female 


emigrant, and what's good for the others must be good for 


" Well," said I, " I*m glad you hold those views. You don't 
want me to tell you what I'd like. But Brigstock objects. 
His objection is the crew's, and we want no trouble." 

" Don't let's talk about me. Will you be able to sail this 
ship to Sydney ? " 

" Why, yes." 

" Then I suppose they'll give you command of her ? That 
will please your father and dear Mrs. Morgan. How little 
they imagine down in quiet Blathford that we are together 
here ! What a situation to find ourselves in ! When you told 
us some stories of the sea that first night of our meeting at 
your father's, I thought nothing could be more wonderful, and 
suspected that sometimes you invented. Now look at this ! 
I have come to sea for some purpose indeed ! I shall be able 
to talk too." 

" And be suspected of invention also. More goes on at 
sea than it's in the philosophy of the landlubber to compass. 
Tell me what you can recollect of this ship having been struck 
by lightning." 

" We had been sent below. The hatch was covered, so we 
saw no flash, but we heard it, and there was a general shriek. 
The sound was as though a gun had burst. Some of the 
women sank upon their knees and prayed. One of the girls 
went into hysterics and screamed dreadfully. When we were 
let out we were told that the doctor had been struck dead and 
the captain blinded." 

" Then the mate jumped overboard in a fit of madness ? " 


" Next you spoke a ship, and the blinded captain, second 
mate, bo'sun, and some seamen boarded her ? " 

" Yes." 

"A sudden violent change of weather separated the two 
vessels ? " 

" All that you say happened." 

" Then for sure," said I, " Brigstock and the men are not 
responsible in any way for the situation in which I found this 
ship. But what beats my time's this : how in jokes came 
those fellows in ten days to find wives, and work out a scheme 
for founding a republic in the South Pacific ? " 

" They must answer for themselves," she replied. " I keep 
to myself, and I therefore knew little of what was going on. 
In that time of our being without a commander I'd some- 
times see Brigstock standing in the midst of a number of 


women, addressing them after the manner of outdoor preach- 
ers. I listened to him once ; I did not understand what he 
said ; he talked of the head of a state as a magistrate too, 
receiving his powers from the people, could marry, divorce, 
baptize, decide causes, try people for their lives, and so on. 
I noticed that in a few days he obtained a wonderful influence 
over certain of the women. They'd assemble with the sailors 
on the poop, and the rest of us down on that deck there would 
hear Brigstock's voice groaning as he sermonized or ex- 
pounded. We then heard, in a sort of gossiping way, that 
when the men procured a navigator they intended to carry this 
Ship to an island and settle down with the women upon it." 

" Miss Cobbs is one of those women ? " 

" Could you believe such a thing ? But what will not some 
women do to get married ? You have talked with Brigstock ; 
is he sincere in this island scheme of his, do you think ? Or 
are he and the crew masking something dreadful ? " 

She said this, and stopped me as we walked to look me full 
in the face with a gaze of almost impassioned anxiety. 

" Brigstock's quite sincere," I answered after reflecting. 
" The man's just a walking heap of vulgar vanity and egotism. 
He*s one of those fellows who fancy that, had they been better 
born and better educated, they'd be great men. He's like a 
second mate I once sailed with, who, believing himself a poet, 
would exclaim, * Ah, if I had but the language ! ' But Brig- 
stock and the crew are in earnest. You may believe that." 

From time to time as we walked Brigstock, at the break of 
the poop, would view us with a grave, thoughtful, askant stare. 
It was drawing on to four o'clock in the afternoon ; the sun- 
light was a glorious moist yellow, and the wide roaring hol- 
lows astern of us were flecked with the following sea birds. 
Many women were on the main and quarter-decks ; in the 
heart of a crowd of them abreast of the galley I spied Alice 
Perry ; she was declaiming as though inspired, extending her 
hands and posture-making with the skill of an actress. A 
sailor ** seizing " a ratline in the fore shrouds stopped often 
to peer through the spread of ropes, fixedly smiling at the 
listening crowd. Now and again, as Kate and I approached 
the forward end of the poop, some of the women looked as 
though they talked of us. 

" It strikes me," said I, " they'll be thinking you and I have 
become pardners, and mean to settle with the others." 

" I'll undeceive them." 

" Poor wretches! If you and I are to leave them with 
Brigstock, what'll they do with the ship ? " 


" Let's talk of things as they are and may be,*'^she exclaimed. 

" May be," I answered, smiling at her. " Who's to know but 
that Brigstock '11 convert me to his scheme, in which case you'd 
become my pardner, wouldn't you, Kate ? " 

" It would be delightful to be imprisoned in an island with 
Brigstock and his crew, and twelve cooks and housemaids. 
I can't believe the creatures are in earnest. And yet I can 
appreciate the reality of the thing too when I run through 
the sailors* choosings or look at the consenting women. I'll 
give you some of their names : There are Emma Grubb and 
Kate Davis, and two sisters, Jess and Nan Honeyball. That's 
Jess there, standing by the mainmast, the girl with her hands' 
upon her hips and her mouth open, looking toward Alice 
Perry. The seamen have picked out the coarsest, and per- 
haps the ugliest. Would not the heads of such women be 
easily turned, not only by the idea of getting a husband apiece, 
but by Brigstock's talk of a lovely island, blushing with 
flowers and fruits, where there are no mistresses, and where 
every Sunday is your own Sunday out ? " 

She stopped again, this time to laugh loudly at some absurd 
thought. Brigstock looked at us, and meeting my eye, smiled 

" Kate," said I, " you have told me nothing about yourself 
as yet." 

" What's there to tell ? " 

" Here you are, an emigrant. What's your errand ? " 

" You know I left England that I might not starve. I may 
not starve on board this ship — though who's to tell what 'II 
happen ? " said she, coiling a tress of hair that had blown 
loose behind her ear. " Perhaps I'm going to a harder lot in 
Australia than I've left." With a bitter shake of head, ** No ! " 
she added, " that would be impossible." 

"You have no friends in the colony." 

" None." 

" Have you any money ? " 

" Ten pounds," she answered artlessly. 

"You have bought clothes and saved ten pounds. Who 
helped you ? " 

" Nobody." 

" Why didn't you apply to my father ? He'd have been glad 
to give his thin purse a squeeze for his old friend's daughter. 
And why didn't you take me into your confidence ? I could 
and would have helped you. I brought a lump of money ashore 
with me. You might have found that out by writing." 

She looked seaward to hide her face. After a short silence 


she said : " I know I have good friends in your father and 
mother, and a well-wisher in you.*' 

" Oh, ha ! a well-wisher — yes ! " 

" I have no claimsupon your parents. The being a daughter 
of an old friend gives me no right to trouble them. Had I 
told them what I meant to do they would have tried to stop 
me. But in stopping me, what would they have kept me to ? 
I don't like to think of it. How should they — how should 
you— know what it is to be a governess — at least in England ? 

I would rather — I would rather Governesses can't be 

worse treated in Australia than at home." 

"You have been unfortunate in your experience." 

" Have I ? There are two girls in this ship who were gov- 
ernesses ; they're going out with the intention of teaching in 
families. That's one of them, the slender pale girl down 
there with the light gold hair, standing alone. I've talked 
with them and compared notes. Both are orphans as I am, 
one the daughter of a major, the other of a painter — an artist. 
Their experiences are longer and wider than mine, and they 
said had they remained in England they would have drowned 

" Who the deuce are the people," said I, " who make girls 
wish to drown themselves ? Are they men ? Oh, to have them 
with me but for one day in that forecastle yonder ! But aren't 
they women always ? If the yarns the novelists spin are true, 
the master of the family is usually disposed to treat the gover- 
ness with rather too much kindness." 

" The master of the last family I was with cut the bread and 
butter for breakfast, and counted the pieces I ate, and when 
the housemaid fell ill he asked me to bring up the coals and to 
help in the bedrooms out of school hours." 

She crooked her eyebrows into an arch expression, but the 
dimness of tears not very deep down was in the light of her 
eyes, and though she smiled, her under lip quivered. 

I changed the subject by talking of Brigstock and his island 
scheme, protesting that I saw no harm, but, on the contrary, a 
very great deal of good in it. Why shouldn't the overflowings 
of British poverty and wretchedness, such as our 'tween decks 
held, find sunny, sweet-scented receptacles in the ocean 
acreage of the Pacific and other seas ? I had no mind myself, 
I told her, to abandon the civilization I was used to, but sup- 
pose me a man soured by existence at home, overtaken by 
troubles I could not crowd on sail enough to run out of 
sight of, a wretch sunk in despondency by the death of his 
sweetheart, a widower robbed of his sole surviving darling 


child, should not I welcome such an asylum as Brigstock's 
island mighty I did not say would^ provide ? 

Our talk was ended by a bell ringing the women down to 
supper. By this time the first dog-watch was well advanced. 
Brigstock had long ago gone forward and was now lurking 
in the galley door, pipe in mouth, yarning with the cook and a 
few seamen. They'd often glance aft as though they talked 
of me. The sour sailor, Harding, had charge of the deck. I 
walked aft to mark how the ship headed, and coming back 
accosted the man. 

" How many of a crew signed for this vessel ? " 
. " Forward and aft, eighteen, all told, sir." 

"Forward and aft there's now thirteen," said I, "and not 
six of a watch at that, unless Brigstock goes aloft." 

" I've bin sailing in bigger vessels than this with fewer men," 
said Harding. 

" Yes," thought I, " and you can make things comfortable for 
yourselves now you're on your own hook, but if it were Hal- 
crow's time instead of yours the twelve of you would be lay- 
ing aft with cursing faces and growling throats, swearing the 
ship was undermanned and refusing duty." 

" Ever had charge of a quarter-deck before this voyage ? " 

" Never had to do with the quarter-deck in all my life 'cept 
a-washing of it down." 

" You'll be missing the sea when you settle on your island, 
won't you ? " 

"Aye," he answered in his sulky voice," as the jackass misses 
his shafts." 

"Brigstock's to be president of your republic, isn't he?" 
said I, talking with the notion of getting at the crew's mind 
through his ; indeed it would have been ridiculous to assert 
my state of captain by standing aloof in the common way and 
holding my end of the ship in lonely dignity — ridiculous under 
such conditions. 

"Aye, Tom's to be boss," he replied. 

" He's to marry you all ? " 

" Aye." 

" And divorce you too ? " 

" Yes," he answered with a grin, which crept into his face 
with the same sort of sulky reluctance his voice had. 

"What '11 be accepted as law by your community may be 
held as good, and certainly convenient, law by others. In that 
case let Mr. Brigstock be chary and wary in granting divorces, 
otherwise you'll be having your little settlement overloaded 
with ships full of quarrelsome people waiting for their turn." 




" What's this talk of divorce ! " he exclaimed, taking me 
very literally. " If parties aint satisfied to live together, aint 
the world big enough for 'em," said h^ looking halfway round 
the horizon. 

" The having a wife is a bit of a drawback when you want 
to marry again ; so the lawyers hold. I'm not a married man 
myself, and talk for information." 

" It '11 be no drawback along of us. Brigstock's constitoo- 
tion '11 provided for that hevil of civilization. When parties are 
dissatisfied they can be sundered arter asking. No call for 
the man to go to the devil to get rid of the woman, or vice 
versey. Prove that your pardner's got a bad temper — that 
she neglects your *ouse — that she aint cleanly, and you're a 
free man. That'll be one of Brigstock's laws. And do the 
females relish it ? Ask 'em ! It's terrible Henglish law should 
force a man or a woman to sin like blazes afore it '11 liberate *em. 
Many's gone wrong, a-cussing of his or her hard fate while 
goin', and all to get rid of t'other. Our constitootion '11 alter 
all that, and a tidy lot more." 

" Who's your partner ? 

" A party named Sarah Salmon.' 

" Why has nobody chosen Alice Perry ? Isn't she the pick 
of the bunch ? ** 

"She up with her fist when Johnny Snortledge offered* 
A prinked up baggage ! I'd rather lodge with a shark." 

" Many of the women are hearty and strong," said I, looking 
at a number of them who had come up after eating their 
supper. " They could pull and haul with the best of you, 
stand a trick after a few lessons, and perhaps go aloft if they 
were breeched. There's a long road before us and six of 
a watch. I've a mind to train some of the women." 

He laughed. 

" Women have shipped as sailors before now, and done as 
well as the smartest." ^ 

I walked away, having said this, with a singular idea in my 
head : Why not teach the alertest and strongest of the women 
just enough of practical seamanship to enable me to carry the 
ship to Sydney without any help after Brigstock's lot had left 
us ? I had been but a few hours in this vessel, yet during 
that time I had thought closely and passionately, and chiefly 
had I wondered how it would fare with us after Brigstock and 
his party were gone ashore. Brigstock had talked of Kanakas. 
I had no notion of trusting myself, helpless and alone as I was 
as a man, with a forecastle full of South Sea Islanders, let 
them hail from where they would. Then, as to a company of 


European seamen, the Polynesian beach comber was, in the 
bulk, a scoundrel, who had run from the whaler or small 
trader, occasionally an escaped convict. In imagination 
I shipped a crew of the beauties, and then thought of my 
'tween decks full of women, and a fine ship and plenty of 
cargo to sail away with ! 

I walked the deck for some time alone, lost in the thoughts 
which had come crowding on top of that offhand remark to 
Harding about training the women, and was full of the sub- 
ject when Gouger called me down to supper. I found Brig- 
stock in the cuddy standing at the door. He had been talking 
to Miss Cobbs on the quarter-deck, but she went away on 
seeing me. When I was seated he took his place. 

" If you've no objection," said he, " I'll go on using the 
second mate's cabin for sleeping in." 

" Objection ! You're mate. You must sleep aft." 

" Perhaps Joe had better come aft too." 

" Why not, if he's to be second mate ? " 

"Will yer keep to the watches as they're now stood?" 
said he." 

" The men are fairly divided ? " 

" Well, yes ; I put the cook into the starboard watch. He 
was willing to take turn and turn about with the rest. But 
he's no hand aloft. The loss of the bo'sun and the other two 
weakened us. But yer *ll find the hands willing — alive an* 
hequal to all calls. Hanxiety *11 keep 'em smart." 

" Let things rest, then. But see, now. There are some 
ninety women in the 'tween decks. Two-thirds are hearty and 
active, used to hard work. Why not strengthen our number 
by teaching the best of them a few tricks of seamanship, so 
that if put to it we should have deck hands enough and to 
spare ? " 

He stared in his slow grave way, munching a piece of ship's 
biscuit as leisurely as a cow chews the cud ; then, when he 
had grasped my meaning, he said, " I don't see that the 
women '11 be wanted." 

I did not intend he should know what was in my mind. 

" I like the notion," said I, " and will get some of the women 
aft and talk to them. How long should an intelligent girl take 
to learn the names of ropes and run to the pins they're belayed 
to ? Some of them after a few lessons will steer the ship in 
quiet weather as skillfully as the best of you." 

A smile worked over his face. 

" They'll only get in the road," he said. 

I changed the subject by relating my experiences as mate of 


the Hebe, Down to that time I had found no opportunity to 
give him that startling story. He listened with lifted eyebrows 
and a long face, ahd fixed unwinking gaze. When I had ended 
he exclaimed : 

"Aint it time, doon't you think, sir, that civilization in 
Hengland was improved ? A day may come — not likely, of 
course, that I, nor some generations arter me, are a-going to 
see it — when that constitootion of ours down in the Pacific '11 
have a little fleet of ships of its own a-trading to all parts, and 
one of my articles for the government of nautical trade *11 be 
this ; that any man caught insuring to the iextent of twenty 
shulluns above the vally of seven-eighths of what he sends 
afloat forfeits all, the money to go to a benefit fund for the 
widows and orphings of drownded sailors." 

This set me talking about his island. I asked if none of 
them had any notion of a spot proper for a settlement in those 
vast western seas. 

" We could himage the sort of thing we'd like easy enough," 
he answered, " but is it to be found 1 One of our men, Bob 
Weatherwax, has got a vollum of travels in his chest. I was 
reading in it some days ago and met with a description of John. 
Fernandez. If them Chilians hadn't got hold of that island 
it 'ud be the place we'd make for : plenty of fine hills and 
beautiful valleys, streams of sweet fresh water, a wonderful 
rich soil, so the piece says, plenty of goats, and verdure for 
the raising of all sorts of live stock, fishes abundant and up to 
the knocker as eating, while the climate's about the perfectest 
either side the equator." 

" You want a big island ? " 

" As much room as is to be got." 

I stepped into my cabin, overhauled the chart bag, and 
brought out charts of the two Pacifies. Though we were a 
mighty long way to the nor'ard of the Horn, still I wished to 
pin the men's views down on some, on any, I cared not what 
part of the chart, so long as the place should rest a settled 
point to head for, for that would make all the difference between 
a definite voyage and a loose, tedious, perhaps aimless cruise. 
I laid the charts upon the table, and our noses came together 
over them. I showed him the line of the equator, and 
advised him to think of nothing within ten degrees north or 
south of it. 

" My belief is," said I, " that whenever you come across any- 
thing particularly alluring you'll find it full of savages." 

" That warn't the experience of Mr. Fletcher Christian and 
his people," said he, " I've bin shipmate along with men who've 


spent three and four years at a stretch whaling in the Pacific, 
and they'd talk of passing island after island without sighting 
a living soul/' 

" Groups of coral stuff of no more good than the Flat 

" No, sir, islands with mountains in the middle, and covered 
with trees, with large lagoons like harbors for bringing up in — 
so their yarns went." 

" Can't you give a name to one of them ? " said I, poring upon 
the chart. " Here are the Marquesas — full up. Here's Tonga 
and Fiji and New Caledonia." 

" Try north," he interrupted. 

" North yields poor choice," said I. " Look at the islands, 
few as currants in a sailor's dumpling. There's nothing for 
you in the Sandwich Islands, nothing in the Ladrones and 

"Well, it'll have to be a hunt ! " he exclaimed, stiffening his 
spine and rubbing the small of his back. " But what we want's 

I replaced the charts and went on deck. 


THE emigrants' DINNER. 

There was a wild hot flush in the west, and sea and sky 
looked to pour into it, the clouds in flying feathers of scarlet, 
and the sea ridging black as ink, though eastward it was a 
hard dark green. To windward, far off on the weather bow, 
a sail was dimly glowing ; I fetched the glass from the cap- 
tain's cabin and found it, as it looked, a noble magnifier ; it 
determined the orange dash of light far away into the propor- 
tions of a brig, heading as we went. I wondered if she were 
the Hebe^ and worked away with the telescope for some time 
in a fit of excitement, but before daylight went I got sight of 
a stump fore topgallant mast, and that settled the matter. 

I looked over the rail for Kate, but did not see her. A few 
women walked about the decks ; a couple of seamen, each 
with a female holding his arm, paced very gravely in the waist ; 
the forecastle wis deserted, and the red, wet gleam which, 
slipped off the planks as the vessel dipped with an occasional 
flash of brine over the headrail explained why. 

My head was full of the project of training a number of the 
women to steer and to handle the ropes. Would they come 


into my scheme ? Very likely if I explained my reasons. But 
then I did not intend that the crew should understand my 
motives ; I had a feeling that if the men began to realize my 
resolution to carry the ship to port they'd turn the matter, 
reason that since / could see my way to a profitable job they 
might as well stop and share in what was to come. I knew 
the seaman's character to be as unstable as the water he sails 
on. Before we were up with the Horn ten of the twelve might 
be swearing that they wasn't going to settle no measly island ; 
thefd stick to the ship, they would, claim their wages, and 
pocket what might follow. I determined to talk with Kate on 
the subject next day. It is a pity, I thought, as I looked at 
the black yawn of main hatch, a mere blotch in the evening 
gloom scarce touched by the feeble lights swinging under 
deck, that she should allow her notion of propriety to tyran- 
nize to the degree of keeping her down there. Had she shown 
any willingness to live aft I'd have brought her into the cabin, 
Brigstock or no Brigstock, and taken my chance of the issue 
of an argument with the crew. Yet she was right, though it 
vexed me to think of her in her gloomy quarters, resting on a 
shelf and eating the emigrants' fare when there were empty 
cabins aft, and a table fit for a lady to sit at. 

I kept the deck till eleven that night, watching the ship ; I 
forget which of the two men had charge. The trade wind blew 
hard, with a long high sea. When I went below to lie down I 
was prepared for a call to result in reefed canvas. But on going 
on deck again at half-past three I found the breeze had 
slackened ; they had set the main royal and boarded the 
main tack, and still the ship was sweeping along nobly, sheet- 
ing out the white water into a radiance as of moonlight. 

Next morning was splendid blowing weather, the seas run- 
ning in hills of blue, a flying sky of steam-white trade cloud, 
and four ships in sight at eight o'clock, though all of them 
hull down. 

Some time after breakfast I left my berth to look for Kate. 
A girl was standing in the cabin door singing. She held out 
her dress with both hands as she sang, keeping time in a 
frolicsome, see-saw, sideways jump ; a troop of women stood 
viewing her, and they laughed immoderately at her antics. I 
caught but one verse of her song, which she howled out in the 
peculiar raw voice of the courts and lanes : 

*' She shall 'ave all that's fine and fair, 
And the best of silk and satin shall wear, 
And ride in a coach to take the hair, 
And *ave a *ouse in St. James* Square," 


Looking over her shoulder, with her face flushed with caper- 
cutting, she spied me, let fail her gown, and bolted. 

I saw Miss Cobbs standing beside the main hatch, and asked 
if Miss Darnley was below. She answered yes, and called 
down. In a few minutes Kate arrived. She looked uncom- 
monly well, fresh as though from a bath. Her cheeks wore a 
rich color, her eyes shone with uncommon vivacity and bright- 
ness ; her dress was of some plain black stuff, not very new. 
She wore her hat with a little rakish set of it upon her fine 
black hair, and this took my eye mightily. 

I shook her hand and asked her to step on to the poop. 
She seemed shy, and peeped about her, and said, '^ Can't we 
converse here ? " 

" No," I answered. ." Come, come ! You're not a girl to 
run delicacy into prudery ? You won't live aft, and you won't 
sit with me at the cabin table, and you may be right, though I 
can't respect the sentiment that deprives me of your company. 
But the fastidiousness that stops you from walking with me on 
the poop must be humbug; so come along, Kate." 

She followed me. 

" You don't care much, do you, for the opinions of such a 
cargo as this ship carries ? " said I, passing my hand through 
her arm to steady her on the lifting and falling slant of 

She turned the question by asking me to give her some 

" There is none," said I. 

" The sailors' scheme is so ridiculous and extraordinary," 
she exclaimed, " that I can't believe they'll persevere. They'll 
hit on some new project, and that's the news I'm waiting for." 

**I don't know how it may be with the majority," I answered, 
"but Brigstock and that sour devil to leeward yonder are 
most infernally in earnest." 

As I said this — we were approaching the wheel — I caught a 
look from the helmsman ; he was Isaac Coffin of the mustache 
and humorous vulgar eyes. I held my face with difficulty, for 
his mind lay as plain in his crumpled visage as though he 

" The fellows 'II find encouragement in you and me, Kate," 
said I, wheeling round with her. "That man thinks we're 
* pardners ' discussing the island scheme." 

" I overheard one of the women tell some others that we'd 
agreed to join the Brigstock set and settle down," said she. 

" What did you say ? " 

" I let her talk." 


" Isn't it known we were acquainted before we met here ? " 
said I. 

" The 'tween decks are like a little town," she answered : 
"one street never hears of what's happening in another. 
There are sets and cliques. The shop girls move in a higher 
sphere than the cooks, and the cooks condescend to the gen- 
eral servants and women whose walks are a little vague, such 
as Emma Marks." 

" Kate," said I, " I have a scheme, but the motive must be 
our secret. Suppose the sailors stick to their resolution ; 
where shall I find men to work the ship to Sydney when the 
crew have left us ? But granted that I could find men, could 
I trust the rowdies we're likely to ship, beach combers who 
carry their consciences strapped in sheaths upon their hips ? 
They'd cut my throat and be off with the ship, choose wives 
as the Jacks of this vessel have, though not so tenderly, haunt 
an island for a few months, and then vanish." 

" Couldn't you get a few respectable English sailors from 
some passing ship to help us to Sydney ? " 

" If a ship passed with respectable English sailors on board 
and the captain was willing — yes. But I've got to provide 
for conditions which are next door to certainties. I'm off an 
island ; the crew are gone with their women ; I'm the only 
man in the vessel ; what's to be done ? " 

She was silent. 

" I'll tell you : I'm for finding out if the pick of the women 
— in strength and coarse health, I mean — will allow themselves 
to be trained to pull and let go and steer." 

She opened her eyes at me. 

** I'm in earnest. There are women in the 'tween decks as 
strong as strong men. They couldn't, I admit, go aloft in 
petticoats, but I hope to see my way even out of that difficulty 
by and by." 

Still she opened her eyes at me. 

" What do you think of my idea ? " 

** It is Qdd — it is — it is — why, if it can be done it will be a 
good idea. Certainly many of the women are strong, as you 
say, stronger than many men." 

Some conceit tickled her, and she laughed loudly. 

" Will you set an example ? " 

" I'll do anything my strength is equal to, but I can't 
climb those heights," she exclaimed, smiling, and upturning 
her dark eyes at the swollen and moving fabric of spar and 

" I'll teach you to steer a ship in half a dozen lessons, and 


in a few days you'll know exactly what ropes to let go when 
the order's given. What do they call that tackle ? " said 1, 
pointing to the main-brace. 

She did not know. 

" And that— and that— and that ? " 

She could not name a rope. But she knew the names of 
most of the sails, and the difference betwixt the mainmast and 
the bowsprit. 

" Still," said I, " you'll let me use you as an example for the 
others. You'll let me hang the bell upon you." 

" But how much easier to pick up a crew as we go along ! " 

" I'll not do it," I replied with some warmth. " Give me a 
couple or three mates to back me, a bo'sun, and a carpenter 
I can put trust in — then you shall advise me. Can't you under- 
stand the perils I'd avoid by training a batch of women to do 
men's work ? " 

" Have you spoken to Miss Cobbs ? " 

" No, but your question gives me an idea." 

I saw the matron, as they called her, standing in the gang- 
way talking with Brigstock, whom a little while earlier I had 
heard shouting to some men ; indeed he could not have 
looked after the necessary work of the ship more closely had 
he been a signed chief mate with the whole round voyage be- 
fore him. I stood with Kate watching them ; presently they 
observed me, and Miss Cobbs, perceiving by my manner that 
I wished to speak to her, came aft. I called her on to the 
poop, and, after saluting her very civilly, said I'd be glad to 
have a few words with her. She bobbed me one of her queer 
fcourtesies, and answered that her time for the next hour was 
quite at my service. 

I determined to approach the point gradually, and began 
by talking about Kate ; I told her who she was, and expressed 
regret that she could not see her way to live aft. 

" Miss Darnley's right," exclaimed Miss Cobbs, looking at 
Kate. " It would not do, I assure you. Mr. Brigstock was 
for bringing me into the cabin. I said certainly not. If / did 
not set an example of strict propriety to the females, what 
might not happen ? Mr. Brigstock's wonderful scheme 
mustn't fail for the want of discipline and decorum here." 

" Mr. Brigstock," said I, " is a very remarkable man." 

" Indeed he is, then, sir," she answered with one of her wire- 
drawn smirks. " He's one of them men who are born far 
below their rightful sphere. But Lor' ! it's but too true that the 
soul's often packed in the wrong case. I know a Jew with the 
sperrit of a Christian ; he hates his face and believes in Christ. 


He do indeed. What right has his body to his soul? Mr. 
Brigstock is born with the sperrit of a ruler ; it's with him as 
though somebody had taken the works out of a gold watch 
case and put 'em into a silver one." 

" Have you any connections, Miss Cobbs ? " 

" Two married sisters at 'ome, sir." 

" Does it please you to think of separating yourself from the 
world by settling in a little island in the Pacific ? " 

" It do indeed. And you can't call it separating. We shall 
be a people. I dare say if there was anything very particular 
to look forward to at home I should think twice. But I don't 
love the idea of plowing the seas in this way for a living, and 
really after I step ashore at Blackwall I am no better off than 
any of those young ladies there," said she, with a sweep of her 
hand in the direction of the main deck. 

" What will you do for clothes ? " said Kate. 

" How do they manage at Pitcairn ? " she answered. " We 
provide ourselves, as is understood, with a little assortment 
from the cargo of this ship. And supposing it should come to 
our depending on our own skill and taste ! It's so at 'ome, . 
isn't it ? You want a hat ; well, you buy the plain straw, let's 
say, then feathers and ribbons for trimming. Now there's to 
be no shops at present in our settlement, but it *ll be strange if 
there's not plenty of material out of which we can make all 
sorts of headdresses for ourselves, with plenty of beautiful 
wild flowers and the gorgeous wings of birds for trimming." 

She dropped a courtesy of self-approval, with a countenance 
of exquisite complacency, as she thus spoke. 

I saw Kate striving hard to smother a laugh. Indeed Miss 
Cobbs' talk couldn't fail to submit certain queer images of her- 
self to us. I figured her raven-hued sausage curls and thin 
nose under a grass hat of her own weaving piled high with 
Pacific vegetation and plumage ; and then another absurd 
fancy occurred to me, and I looked away till I had shaken off 
a sudden fit of silent laughter. 

I now asked her to pace the deck, and we started, Kate on 
one side and she on the other. Brigstock, who was directing 
some work forward, frequently turned with grave, slow ges- 
tures to survey us. The girl Alice Perry had climbed on top 
of the bulwark rail, with her back against the main shrouds, 
where she sat safe ; there she hung, swinging her legs, and 
flashing looks at us under her wild, shaggy brow as we'd 
approach the forward end of the poop. A number of girls 
were singing in concert near the main hatch, and I thought I 
heard the sound of a fiddle in the 'tween decks. On either side 


the galley were lines of bedding spread for airing. A farm- 
yard noise came from the coop and longboat, and what with 
the moving figures of the girls, the dance and flutter of their 
colored raiment, the blown smoke from the galley chimney, 
the picture of that ship's deck was as lively a sea piece as I 
had ever seen, full of the hurry of the strong wind, of darting 
colors, of swinging shadows, with a ceaseless roar of rushing 
foam on either hand, and a blue horizon, sharp as the edge of 
a lens, broken in three places by a sail, and dark as violet 
against the morning azure past it. 

As we walked I told Miss Cobbs carelessly of my scheme of 
making the women useful and amusing them too. 

"Aren't there men enough to do the ship's work ?" said she, 
and I was struck by a quick suspicious lift of her eyes. 

" That's my business," I answered coolly. I added after a 
pause, " Twelve men are not a complement for a vessel of the 
Earl of Leicester's tonnage, freighted as she is." 

" No doubt you're right, sir. But few as the men are they're 
good 'ands." 

" I've called you up here to talk the thing over. Go pres- 
ently among the women and sound them, and let me hear what 
they think." 

" But they did not embark in this ship to do her work," said 
Miss Cobbs with some amazement. 

" You don't suppose I'd force ship's work upon them. 
There's a long voyage before us. We're undermanned. I 
choose to think so, and know it ! We need a supplemental 
crew. The girls have nothing to do with themselves all day 
long. Are they willing to take lessons in steering and learn 
the names of the ropes, sails, and yards of the ship ? " 

She looked as if she would like to tell me my scheme was 
ridiculous, and exclaimed, "It's a very hentertaining idea, sir. 
Some of the women, I'm sure, would gladly learn how to steer, 
and it 'ud amuse a nuniber of them to get the names of the 
ropes by 'eart. But I'm afraid you'd find 'em of no real use 
if it should come to your needing their services. What do 
you say, Miss Darnley ? " 

" There are ninety women ; I dare say Mr. Morgan would 
be able to educate a company of about twenty into being able 
to help on deck. But he'll find none with pluck enough to 
climb," said Kate, again looking aloft. 

Miss Cobbs giggled. " Who's to teach the lasses, sir ? *' 
she asked. 

" ril arrange for that and take classes myself." 

" Will you learn ?" said the matron, smirking at Kate. 


" It will be a proud moment for me when I can hold that 
wheel and control this beautiful ship by it," answered Kate, 
with such fine affectation of enthusiasm that her color seemed 
to mount and her eyes to kindle with the mere effort of 

After we had talked a little longer on this matter Miss 
Cobbs left me, taking my request that she should sound the 
women as a command from the master of the ship. Kate 
walked by my side for another half hour. All our talk was 
about her future. Where would she stay on her arrival at 
Sydney ? What would she do if she did not quickly get a 
situation as governess ? I'd look sideways and earnestly at 
her while we conversed. At Blathford I had thought her 
pretty ; I seemed now to find her as sweet and handsome 
again as she was then. Was I going to loose my heart and 
complicate my adventures by a love passage ? She'd some- 
times grow grave while talking about what she was to do in 
Australia should the Earl of Leicester ever reach Sydney, but 
there was no lack of fire and spirit in her words and manner. 
The heart that had brought her into this ship beat strong ; 
there was courage of a steady, quiet, heroic sort in every look 
and saying and smile of hers. 

When we parted I went below and spent an hour in going 
carefully through Captain Halcrow's effects, and stowing them 
away for locking or sealing up: It was a duty I owed a 
brother seaman, and I resolved that whatever I borrowed or 
took I'd make a note of, that he might suffer no loss should it 
be in my power to pay him. 

While I was at this work I thought of the Hebe^ and won- 
dered if I should ever recover my own poor outfit and little 
stock of money. I found twenty sovereigns in a small box in 
a locker. I also met with a dozen boxes of very good cigars. 
When I was tired with this work I wrote in the log book and 
then made certain calculations, next overhung the South 
Pacific chart, and searched the collection of books for informa- 
tion about the navigation of those seas, but in vain. This 
brought the hour to about half-past eleven, and I went on 
deck with one of Halcrow's sextants. 

Brigstock was on the poop to windward forward talking 
with Harding. I looked about me for a minute or two, and 
then sung out, ** Mr. Harding, set the fore topmast stunsail." 

The man promptly ordered the boom to be rigged out. 

" We must sweat it out of this wind while we have it," said 
I, going up to Brigstock. " Better two points off than two of 
leeway. Make a fair wind of whatever comes along," said I. 


I watched the men set the sail, and observed they were lively 
and thorough. 

" She feels it, sir," said Brigstock, coming up from the lee 
rail with a face of grave satisfaction. 

" At what hour do the women dine ? " 

" At wan bell." 

" I mean to see them eat. You'll accompany me ? " 

" Aye, aye, sir." 

I took up a position to command the sun, Brigstock attend- 
ing me. He waited till I made eight bells, regarding me with 
curiosity and respect, and then when the chimes on the main 
deck had ceased he exclaimed, " So you're in earnest, sir, in 
your scheme of training the women ? Them as '11 be willing, 
I mean." 

" Yes," I answered impatiently. 

•* You'll excuse me," said he with his slow delivery, 
" a-questioning of you as captain of this ship, but what good 
might you think the females are going to be to us ? " 

" Has Miss Cobbs been talking to you ? " 

" She has, sir." 

" She can give you my reason." 

" There are twelve good men in this ship, capt'n, sailors all, 
who don't want any help from women, sir." 

" I intend to supplement the ship's company by a working 
body of strong girls — those who, as you say, may be willing. 
Now, Mr. Brigstock, I'm either to be captain or not. Say the 
word," said I, looking at him steadily. 

" Oh ! " he exclaimed, with an odd bow of civil protest. 
" This is no scheme to alter our views of yer, sir." 

" I shall be ready to visit the 'tween decks at half-past 
twelve," said I. 

At that hour he was waiting for me on the quarter-deck. 
All the women were below ; the last of the girls of the mess 
had disappeared down the hatchway with the steaming kids 
and cans ; the seamen were likewise at dinner, and the ship' 
rushed bowing onward under her wide, overhanging wing of 
studding sail, watched by Harding, who paced a few planks* 
width of the weather poop deck. 

I descended the hatch ladder, followed by Brigstock, and 
stood a minute or two viewing a singular scene. The women 
were seated in a row on either side the table, at the after 
extremity of which sat Miss Cobbs. The atmosphere was 
clouded with the steam of pease soup, boiled pork, and plum 
duff. The heel of the windsail poured in a good supply of 
fresh air, but there would have been no virtue in a living gale 


to sober or extinguish the smell of the soup and the pork. 
The kids and dishes steamed down the whole length of the 
table, and in addition to their incense I tasted the disgusting 
flavor of soup and bouilli and preserved " spuds." Lanterns 
swung in the fore part, and the play of lights and shadows 
there, the gradual dimming down of the lines of faces into 
mere phantasms, the various change of posture in the eating 
and drinking figures, produced an effect many touches above 
my genius to describe. 

Every tongue was going, knives and forks rattled on -the 
tin plates like a chain cable in a hawse pipe. A few of the 
women moved up and down small divisions of the sitters, as 
though waiting upon them. I kept for a'bit under the hatch the 
better to hear Brigstock's replies to my questions, and I now 
learned that he had taken the second mate's place in serving 
out the stores, since the ship had been left without anyone to 
command her. He gave me certain facts which 1*11 not 
trouble you with, though I was here to satisfy myself upon 

Some time passed before any notice was taken of us. When 
we were perceived Miss Cobbs stood up, and the jangle of 
tongues at our end softened, though a sharp talk, with frequent 
shrill laughter, and piercing cries to hand this along and to 
pass that across, was kept up at the forward part. I told Miss 
Cobbs to keep her seat, and complimented her upon what 
I chose to call her methods. Everything looked clean. The 
dishes were so disposed as to illustrate a well-digested system. 
In short that long dinner table was as comfortable to the sight 
as the judgment could possibly contrive in dealing with such 
coarse utensils and unsavory sea fare as loaded it. 

I walked leisurely down the starboard row of diners. Brig- 
stock in my wake. I had several motives in paying this visit, 
but chiefly I wished the women and the sailors to understand 
that I considered myself as fully the master of the vessel as 
ever Halcrow had been, with every right of inquisition, and 
strong with resolution that the government of the ship should 
be justly and carefully administered. The females fell some- 
what silent as I passed. I looked for Kate, and saw her sitting 
on the port side. 

When I got to the bottom of the^ table I came to a stand, 
and glancing along the double row of faces, I exclaimed, 
" Ladies, I*m glad to see you're well looked after. This 
punctuality of meals, and the manner in which the food's 
served, do great credit to Miss Cobbs and to Mr. Brigstock." 

I had expected some applause would follow this. Instead 


several women began to hiss, and a rasping voice yelled out, 
" Don't mention Brigstock. Why aren't we to be sailed 
straight to Australia ? " 

" Have you come down here to talk about making sailors of 
us, captain ? " called out Alice Perry, who was seated midway 
on the starboard side. 

" Oi'll be a tarpaulin soon as ever yer loike," cried a girl. 
** Oi'm a Deal man's daughter. Oi've been off along with 
farder scores of times. His lugger was the Water Witch^ and 
she was run down and all hands drownded off Folkestone 
three years ago come next month, and that's why Oi'm here." 

** I'll be talking to as many of you as '11 volunteer by and 
by," said I. "Go on with your dinner, I beg. I'm not here 
to interrupt you." 

" Taste this," exclaimed a young woman close beside me, 
holding up a lump of pale fat pork on a two-pronged fork. 

" Ask the capt'n to try the pease soup fust," cried another 

** Don't let him be persuaded to have anything to do with 
the pudden," said a third in a mincing tone, and with the 
provincial accent (this woman's face was like a piece of sum- 
mer English country with her cherry lips and apple cheeks 
and blackberry eyes and rich gloss of chestnut on her hair), 
" or the ship '11 again be without a navigator." 

" Is it the pork or the cooking that's wrong? " said I to the 
first speaker. 

"The pork," she answered. "It was never part of the 
usual pig. Hi've boiled plenty of pork in my time but never 
such flesh as this." 

" It's a piece of old sailor, Miss Flanders ! " exclaimed the 
woman next her. At this there was a great laugh, Brigstock 
joining in with a solemn, hollow ha, ha ! 

" I can deal with the cook, but not with the meat," said I. 
" No good meat ever dreams of going to sea. What's shipped 
is meant to keep sailors' teeth white and sharp, and to give 
them a relish for beefsteak when they get ashore." 

On my way to the hatch ladder I stopped to speak to Kate. 
While I stooped, intending a low voice, Alice Perry, who sat 
nearly opposite, cried out : " Capt'n, sit down beside Miss 
Darnley and take your dinner along with us. There looks to 
be plenty, but you'll find it isn't all jam for us girls." 

I smiled at the coarsely handsome creature, with her strong 
white teeth, and large black saucy eyes, and having addressed 
Kate, passed on, taking no notice of the cries some of the 
females followed me with, to stop and comfort them with 


talking about the voyage and how long it was to last — to stop 
and explain what sort of work would be expected of them if 
they were willing to learn the names of ropes and how to 



The trade wind, without failing us, scanted considerably 
that afternoon. The sea ran sloppily, as though thick with 
grease, the weather darkened with wet, and for the next two 
days the time was too uncomfortable to find me a chance of 
talking to the women. It then cleared one morning watch in a 
sweep of the heavens by a sudden freshening of the trade 
gale that brightened the sky out into a clear face of trembling 
stars ; at seven o'clock the ship, heeled to the line of her chan- 
nels, was flashing her wet copper to the windward sun through 
an ocean of dark blue foaming billows, the trade cloud sailing 
over the reeling trucks, the flying fish sparkling from the shear- 
ing fore foot, and a confused music, as of a dozen orchestras 
blowing and fiddling in opposition, trembling out of the 
shadowy concavities of canvas, and twanging off the taut 
and vibratory standing rigging into the steady roar of the 

I breakfasted and went on deck. It was about nine o'clock. 
I saw Miss Cobbs conversing with Brigstock at the foot of the 
poop ladder, and asked her to request the emigrants to assem- 
ble on the quarter-deck, as I desired to explain my scheme of 
picking a supplemental crew from among them. There might 
then have been from twenty to thirty females on deck. 

I took a few turns while Miss Cobbs went about among the 
women ; presently a great number, indeed all, I think, had 
assembled. The sailors of the watch gave notice to their 
mates below of what was going forward, and all hands came 
into the waist, the watch knocking off their work to listen. I 
did not think proper to notice the impudence of the men in 
coolly dropping their jobs. I might talk big, but I understood 
(and so did they) that discipline with us must be regulated by 
the forecastle view of our situation. 

Nor was I made very easy by the suggestions of the men's 
postures. A sailor can express mutiny by an attitude, and 
with tight and silent lips dart curses at you with his looks. 
But my resolution was formed and as hard as nails on this 
question of a female crew. I went to the poop rail and looked 


a minute»at the women, who stared up at me with countenances 
awork with curiosity. Kate was in the thick of them, Alice 
Perry in the foreground, almost directly under me. Near her 
stood the black hung-faced Jewess Emma Marks ; her purple 
pupils on yellow ground made her seem to stare up at me with 
a small pair of sunflowers for eyes. 

In a few words I told the women I considered the ship 
short-handed, and asked some of their number to form into a 
little company to be instructed in the art of steering, and in 
the names and uses of the rigging, yards, and sails. 

Brigstock, standing abreast of me to leeward, listened atten- 
tively ; while I spoke Joe Harding turned to some of the men 
he stood beside on the skirts of the women and talked with 

"Of course, ladies," I continued, *ithe scheme is more for 
your entertainment than for utility. Yet, seeing what a big 
company we are, and that our crew of men numbers twelve 
only, I say it will be for the good of the whole shipload of us 
that we should be able to count upon the services of a trained 
number of you at any moment." 

" What '11 be expected of them that volunteers ? " said Emma 

" They'll take the wheel from time to time in fine weather, 
and help on deck when the watch are aloft reefing or furling." 

" Will they be paid for their work? " said Emma. 

" The owners or agents are sure to recognize their services." 

" No female could climb those heights ! " cried Miss Cobbs, 
who stood on the quarter-deck just under the poop where 
Brigstock was. 

" Try me ! " shrieked Alice Perry, with a quick clasp of her 
hands and a loud laugh as she looked at Miss Cobbs. 

I now made a sort of speech in which I related one or two 
anecdotes of women who had shipped on board vessels as 
sailors. I said that no doubt the crew could tell of young 
seamen who had proved women. 

" That's right enough, sir," cried out the cook, a man named 
Wambold. " I was in hospital at Calcutta three years ago 
along with a young ordinary seaman who'd been took with 
cholera ; he died, and they found him a gal." 

I continued my address. I said that those ladies who were 
willing to learn to be sailors would assemble at fixed times on 
the poop, where they'd receive instruction from me. I had no 
doubt, I said, that Mr. Brigstock and Mr. Harding, together 
with others of the crew, would be glad to lend me hand. 
There was a long voyage before us ; amusements were hard 


to invent. The work to be done would improve the graces of 
the figure ; what was more elegant than the light, dancing, 
easy step of the sailor? This charming gait and flowing car- 
riage of figure the sailor girls of the Earl of Leicester would 
speedily though insensibly acquire. The effect of such deep- 
sea graces upon the Australians, who were to a man lovers of 
the ocean, might prove exceedingly fortunate for many of the 

I talked on in this strain, then asked those who were willing 
to volunteer as a supplemental crew to hold up their hands. 

Now there was no sickness in the ship at that time, and I 
believe that every living person on board was on deck ; you 
will suppose, then, that the women and seamen made a great 
crowd. When I asked them to lift their hands I had reckoned 
upon about a dozen girls doing so. Judge how astonished I 
was when at least seventy arms were flung up, and there the 
women stood, pretty nearly the whole of them, as it seemed at 
the first glance, with their hands in the air, one straining on 
tiptoe behind another, most of them with eager smiling faces. 
I took this as expressive of their resentment, and as a protest 
against Brigstock and his lot. Indeed I felt tolerably sure 
that had they supposed Brigstock and the crew favored my 
scheme the show of hands would have been exceedingly 

I called out " All right! " signing that they might put their 
arms down. I then said in my politest tones, " Ladies, I 
thank you for your ready acceptance of my wishes. We shall 
not need all the volunteers by one-half at least. I therefore 
propose, with your consent, to choose from among you while 
you stand there. Those I select will be so good as to step on 
to the poop. Those who are not chosen will please under- 
stand that they are held in reserve, to be drawn upon as we 
may need recruits." 

The first I pointed to was Alice Perry, who instantly bounded 
up the poop ladder, with shining eyes and a frolicsome shake 
of the head, and a saucy, laughing look at Brigstock, who eyed 
her in solemn silence as she danced up the steps. I then 
pointed to a second girl named Emmy Reed, a stout, strong 
young woman of about seven-and-twenty. One after another 
the women I beckoned at came on to the poop. I picked out 
thirty of the strongest and the likeliest. Some, with their broad 
backs and stout arms, would have proved a match for any of 
our men, whether at a steady drag upon a rope, nay, or at 
wrestling, or at boxing for that matter, suppose you trained 
them to keep their temper. Kate made thirty-one. 


They seemed highly diverted. Those on the main deck 
stared at us with moody, jealous looks. None of the seamen's 
" pardners " volunteered. On the contrary, they had backed 
away while I was picking and choosing, and were making a 
crowd with the sailors in the gangway. I found an eye for 
them, and noticed they talked earnestly. The massive Emma 
Grubb, burly as a big smack boy, jabbered, hands on hip, with 
the seaman of her choice, Isaac Coffin, who barely reached to 
her nose. The two sisters Jess and Nan Honeyball were loud 
and demonstrative ; Wambold was Nan's partner, and a man 
named Luddy Jess'. There, too, was the moon-faced Kate 
Davis of the huge red arms; Jupe Jackson was her pal, and 
she talked in that crowd with both hands upon his shoulders, 
as though *' standing by " to shake the life out of him at a 
moment's notice. 

And here let me say that the other ladies who were to 
serve as mothers for a settlement of Britons in the Pacific 
were — I got their names, one by one, by degrees afterward — 
Martha Gibbs, dairymaid, the partner of Sampson, then at the 
wheel; Selah Bung, seamstress (Gouger); Maggie Dobree, 
seamstress (Bob Weatherwax) ; Nan Nesbitt, nursemaid 
(Jonathan Snortledge); Isabella Dobson, cook (Hull); Sail 
Simmonds, housemaid (Prentice). The others you know. 

Brigstock paced athwart the back of the poop. He viewed 
me often askew. The girls I had picked out were in a crowd 
abreast of the weather mizzen rigging. 

" A finer body of women," said I, running my eye over 
them, letting my gaze barely rest on Kate with an instant's 
smile, " no man could desire to make sailors of. Ladies, 
you're doing me honor, not only obliging me, but greatly 
helping yourselves also, believe me," said I earnestly. " I'll 
give a lesson this afternoon. There's too strong a breeze, too 
high a sea for any helm work now. I shall want a bo'sun and 
two mates." 

At these words two mates three or four girls burst into a 

"I'll be bo'sun ! " cried Alice Perry, swaying with the bowl- 
ing roll of the stage Jack as she stood, as though about to 
break into a jig. 

" That post will be filled by the smartest," said I, and then 
asked them to accompany me to the wheel. 

They all followed me, laughing and ejaculating and highly 
pleased. Kate was as eager as any of them in her behavior, 
and I admired her tact. The able seaman Sampson was at 
the helm ; he was a tough-looking chap with a leather face, 


and eyes sunk in their sockets as though blown deep by years 
of hard weather. He wore a wild expression, as of a grin 
struggling with a scowl, when the women closed around him, 
and chewed hard upon the knob inside his cheek, snapping 
glances at the compass bowl, then aloft, and swinging off from 
the wheel, whose machinery of tackle and kicking tiller gave 
him plenty to think of, so abrupt was the sternward plunge 
at times into the thunderous rush of yeast under the 

The women listened with close attention while I explained 
the mechanism of the wheel, often exclaiming, '* Lor', now ! 
— I s'y, though — Aint it croolly funny ! " and so forth. 

The strapping girl who called herself the daughter of a 
Deal boatman thrust close beside me to hearken, and when I 
was done she asked leave to try her hand at the wheel. I 
looked her over, and seeing confidence strong in her face, 
nodded, and told Sampson to get to leeward, ready to help, 
but not to touch the spokes. 

This Deal girl's name was Susannah Corbin. She grasped the 
wheel as though to the manner born. The kicks of the tiller 
made her breasts heave, but with large nostrils and set lips 
she held the ship to her course, and though she stood at the 
helm for five or six minutes, not once had Sampson occasion 
to help her. 

" What think you of this ? " said I to ihe women. 

" You'll give me a chance, I 'ope, before you make her 
bo'sun," exclaimed Alice Perry. 

" Let me try my hand," said Kate. 

She took the wheel from the Deal girl and made so hand- 
some a figure at it that you must have fallen in love with her 
even as a picture, but nothing could better show off a fine 
shape than a ship's wheel, which stretches the arms and 
compels the form into all sorts of yielding, swaying motions. 

The ship was speedily three points off her course with Kate 
at the helm, and Sampson came to windward again. We were 
closely observed by the seamen and a number of women in the 
fore parts of the ship, whence the sight commanded the length 
of the poop. I told my company of girls that I would give 
them a lesson in seamanship that afternoon, and away they 
went to the main deck laughing, joking, and talking, all in high 
spirits, some acting as though turning a wheel or pulling a 
rope, others leaping and singing. They filed down the poop 
ladder in a tumult of laughter and voices. 

I detained Kate on the poop for a walk and a chat. 

" I think you are puzzling Brigstock," said she. 


''No matter. 1*11 make good sailors of those women long 
before we're up with the Horn." 

" Would it not be good policy to be candid with Brig- 
stock and the crew ?" 

" Why, yes, if I were as cocksure that all hands were as 
much in earnest in this island scheme as Brigstock is. But 
I don't want them to change their minds. My intention is 
to preserve this ship with the help of the women. I mean to 
be the hero of one of the most memorable adventures in 
sea story." 

" The men won't carry out their scheme." 

" I'll find them an island anyway." 

" The girls are absurdly delighted with the idea of becoming 
sailors," said she, laughing. ** But without men how will you 
reef and furl ? " 

**Breek Alice Perry and she'd be sending down a royal 
yard in a week," said I. 

This was Hebrew to her. 

" I'll steer your ship and pull your ropes," she exclaimed, 
" but you'll never drive me up there," and she halted, looking 
straight up at the swollen and towering canvas. 

I changed the subject by talking once more of her pros- 
pects in Australia, and we had a long chat about home. She 
told me one or two touching stories of her struggles. 

" Well, you're out of it all here," said I. " There's nothing 
white-lipped and black-hearted in the shape of mistresses 
aboard us ; no small pudding-heads here to fill with geog- 
raphy and arithmetic. When those hearts there are out of 
the ship you shall be her chief mate." 

After I had taken sights that day I asked Brigstock if 
there was a bo'sun whistle in the forecastle. He said there 
might be one in the chest left behind by the boatswain of the 
vessel. I requested him to look. He answered, ** The sacred- 
ness of proputty's a thing I'm for impressing strongly upon 
the minds of those who go along with me. How'd it stand 
with my arguments if the crew was to see me overhaul the 
bo'sun's chest ? " 

I glanced at the clothes he had borrowed from one of the 
cabins and said gravely, " Mr. Brigstock, I admire your prin- 
ciples, and should be sorry to ask you to do anything likely to 
weaken the valuable influence you exercise over the crew. 
Still, if you could contrive without prejudice to your moral 
control to find me a bo'sun's whistle you'll much oblige me." 

When he came into the cabin at the dinner hour he brought 
a whistle with him. I thanked him, but asked no questions, 


It had no doubt belonged to the late bo 'sun, and it was an old 
silver pipe, which blew a shrill sweet whistle when I put it to 
my lips. 

While I dined most of the women came on deck and hung 
about as though waiting for me, some peeping in at the cabin 
door and windows. Brigstock talked a good deal about his 
constitootion, and said one of the main principles of it would 
be religious equality. 

" It's terrible to consider," said he, " that a man may be 
wrong, though he thinks he's right, so that by a-forcing of his 
own opinions he stands at Judgment Day to be charged with 
the loss of souls. One sperrit's enough for a man to look 
arter, and that's his own. The hessence of the religion of my 
constitootion *11 be : Let every man see to his own soul ; he'll 
have no time then to trouble himself about others, and so we 
may scrape along without much preachin*." 

He continued for some time in this strain. I listened with 
attention. A rude enthusiasm glowed in his words, and 
lighted up his dark steady eyes, and slightly reddened his 
long, formal, melancholy face. If ever I had questioned the 
fellow's sincerity and zeal as a settler and primitive father, 
all doubt must have ended while I now followed him. Just 
before he left the table to relieve Joe Harding he said, " May 
I ask,, capt'n, if you're in airnest in your scheme about them 
women ? Or is it your notion jest to amuse 'em ? " 

" They'll prove serviceable," I answered shortly ; then ob- 
serving that he stood arid looked at me, I said, ^^ I shall 
expect you and Mr. Harding to help in training the girls." 

With the instinctive obedience of the old hand, he muttered, 
" Aye, aye, sir," and slowly made his way on deck. 

There was in me at this time a spirit of indifference that 
was a sort of insolence, due, perhaps, to my feeling strong as 
the only navigator in the ship. I was young and wanting in 
wariness. Again, for some years I had held situations of com- 
mand. I failed to steadily keep in mind the conditions under 
which this Earl of Leicester was sailed ; the quarter-deck habit 
was dominant, and I never could talk to Brigstock and the 
others but as forecastle hands, designed by nature to hop and 
fly when a skipper or a mate sung out. 

But let this be as it will. When Brigstock was out of the 
cabin I went to the cuddy door and asked the women who 
were hanging about in clusters under the break of the poop 
to send Miss Darnley aft if she was disengaged. Some of the 
girls ran with wonderful willingness and alacrity, crying for 
Miss Darnley along the deck and down the hatch. Party 


feeling was expressed even in this little thing ; it was already 
Brigstock and his small Utopian clan on the one hand, and 
myself and the great mass of the emigrant women on the 

Kate came through the crowd to the door where I stood ; 
she looked startled ; she was pale and nervous. 

« What is it ? " she asked. 

" Step in," said I. 

She entered, and I drew her to the after end of the cuddy. 

" What's frightened you ? " 

" A dozen women have been screeching out my name." 

" What of that ? " 

" You can't imagine the effect of hearing your name ringing 
through a ship in a dozen sorts of screams. What do you 
want ? Look how they are staring ! " 

I pulled out the boatswain's whistle, and, putting it to my 
lips, piped a call. I had learned to pipe when I first went to 
sea, and warbled like a canary now, though years had passed 
since I had put a sea whistle to my mouth. The women, hear- 
ing that shrill music, gathered in a thicke^ning crowd at the 
cuddy front, but none offered to enter. 

" Did you hear that ? " said I. 

" I did," she answered, bringing her hands from her ears. 

" I want you to learn certain calls that you may pipe the 
women to school and afterward to their work. Blow now." 

I gave her the whistle and she blew ; I took it from her and 
piped and trilled, and bade her imitate the noise. She did so 
in a manner that satisfied me she would soon be mistress of 
that whistle. We blew together in this fashion for about half 
an hour. The women outside at first looked amused and 
excited, but as the time wore on they grew impatient. One 
of them, a red-faced, thin-featured person named Catharine 
Hale, standing in the doorway, bawled out at last : 

" I thought we was to have a lesson. Is Miss Darnley to be 
the only one taught ? " 

I asked for the time. One behind her looked up at the 
clock and said it was after half-past two. 

" Then," said I, " up with you ladies on to the poop," and 
Kate and I went on deck by the companion steps. 

When the girls were assembled I told them I meant to 
teach Miss Darnley certain tunes on the boatswain's pipe, with 
which airs she would when perfect summon them on to the 
poop twice a day, weather permitting. I drew them up in 
double ranks just before the wheel, and pointed to such gear 
as I intended they should get the names of, often stepping to 


the ropes where they were belayed to pins, so that by seeing 
how tiiey led they could better understand their uses, and then 
I made them repeat the names and my explanations. They 
took it all as good fun, and yet were fairly in earnest too. I 
guessed their education in this way would occupy some time, 
for many were dull, thick, and slow ; those were unfortunately 
the coarsest and strongest, the best of all to answer my pur- 
pose. But then I did not want much knowledge in them ; the 
ability to run to such ropes, to brace about such yards, to let 
go and hoist away upon such halyards as I named, would suf- 
fice, and there was plenty of time before us. 

We were watched with curiosity by the seamen and their 
" pardners," and many of the ladies crowded up the poop 
ladders and got upon the bulwark rails to observe our pro- 
ceedings. I kept the girls on deck till four o'clock, teaching 
and talking to them. Some were quick in picking up the 
terms and correctly applying them, and among these were Alice 
Perry, a girl named Clark who wore spectacles, and the Deal 
girl Corbin. 

When the lesson was ended I lifted my hat and thanked 
them for their attention, and added significantly and very 
earnestly, " All this is intended for your safety." They then 
left the poop in a troop, and presently the main deck was noisy 
with their own and the laughter of others as they went over 
their lessons again, one crying, " Emmy, which is the main 
topgallantbrace? " and another, "Miss Marsdale, what's the 
mizzen topsail halyards ? " and a third, ** Susie, where's the end 
of the starboard main brace 1 " 

Now and again one of the Jacks barked out a laugh at 
these calls. 

Eight bells had gone ; the first dog-watch had begun. It 
was a glorious afternoon ; the light of the sun was yellow as 
pale gold, untinged as yet by the hectic of the west ; the 
trade wind was a steady pouring breeze, and the ship, to the 
faithful spiriting of it, swept onward at a steamer's constant 
rate. The two last heaves of the log had shown nine, neither 
more nor less. While I paced the deck after the lesson I 
thought to myself. The Horn's not distant at this going ; I've 
not begun too soon ! 

At supper Brigstock asked me respectfully how I got on. 
I answered that I was very well satisfied. 

" The men fancy," said he, " that some of the females asked 
jer to teach 'em, meanin' to turn sailors if they aren't able to 
get work out in Australia." 

" Strange that a simple idea should be so hard to under- 


Stand," said I, guessing that his sentence was a " feeler." ** It 
may come to our wanting hands, and what you can't find you 
must make." 

' His mind struggled with this; he then said, ** What d'jer 
think's goin* to happen to the crew afore we falls in with our 
island ? " 

I was on the point of bluntly confessing my intention, with a 
swift fancy in me that Kate was right, but was checked by my 
first motive of secrecy. So I curtly replied that I considered 
the Earl of Leicester uviiltrmdiUViGd. ; we had the Horn to pass, 
where we might be thankful for a supplementary crew, even 
though they should be petticoated ; I added that I looked to 
him and Harding to assist me. 

He munched his biscuit and drank his black tea in silence. 

" There'll be no objection to a bit of dancing afore sun- 
down ? " says he presently. 

" A bit of dancing ? " 

" The men and their pardners." 

" And you ? " 

He shook his head, while one of his grave smiles traveled 
cat's-paw fashion over his long face, and answered, " No, sir. 
I'm too old for the likes of that sorter vanity. But I'm for 
encouraging 'armless enjoyment. There's to be nothen mel- 
ancholic in the constitootion. No groanin' — nothen liverish. 
I've read of Crummell. The theayters was locked up in them 
times, plum duff was a sin 'cos it was reckoned a papish super- 
stition. When a man talked pious he drawed his sperrit into 
his nose to jaw through. What followed ? Horgies. I'm for 
natur, only she's got to be measured for a long skirt afore she 
can please me,** 

I burst out a-laughing and left the table. 

I was curious and anxious too to see what sort of figure the 
men and their partners would make in dancing, also if others 
besides the " pardners " meant to dance. I had at some earlier 
time heard the strains of a fiddle in the 'tween decks, and now 
at this hour, drawing on to six o'clock, a good-looking young 
woman of the shop-girl order, neat and slender, came on deck 
accompanied by Kate Davis, and walked toward the forecastje, 
where the ship's company, saving the man at the wheel, and 
Harding, who had the lookout, stood waiting, all grins and 
restless shuffling, all in their best togs too, and as clean as 
a bucket of salt water, and maybe one half comb and a single 
brush of scattered bristles for the whole forecastle could make 

The neat and slender girl held a fiddle in one hand and 


a bow in the other. Jupe Jackson at the head of the fore- 
castle ladder convulsed his figure at her in an extraordinary 
bow, and not without a kind of wild rough grace, handed and 
securely seated her on top of the booms stowed over the long- 
boat, where she at once fell to tuning up. All the women who 
had agreed to be married to the sailors by Brigstock and live 
upon an island now mounted on to the forecastle, Miss Cobbs 
leading the way. Brigstock received this lady and took her 
into the head, where they seated themselves out of the road, 
but in a position that enabled them to see all that passed. 
A large number of the women went below as though to mark 
their scorn and disgust, but Til not say those passions were 
unmixed ; I dare suppose there was a good deal of jealousy 
among them. Many, however, stayed and watched the scene 
from the main and quarter-decks. 

The forecastle was a bad dancing floor with its litter of 
stowed anchors and fore-scuttle and windlass gear. Probably 
the sailors would have used the quarter-deck but for their fear 
of being crowded by the women, and jostled and hindered. 
I took notice there were no refreshments. This pleased me. 
It proved, at all events, that Brigstock and his fellows were con- 
sistent in their views of equality ; they would not themselves 
eat and drink, nor give to their ** pardners," what the rest of 
the emigrants did not get. It also exhibited a resolution of 
sobriety that was as good as a warranty of decorum. 

I looked for Kate, wanting her at my side to view the queer 
ocean pastime, but she was of those who were below. The 
sunshine was red ; it painted the hard breasts of sails that 
color. The water rushed aft in a cataractal race of foam 
from the driving bows, but the run of the sea was steady, nor 
had its volume the weight of the morning surge, and the dip 
of the head was as regular as the swing of a pendulum, a light, 
gentle, airy courtesy and toss, proper to put a livelier nimble- 
ness into flying feet, and a spirit beyond the magic of the bow 
into the melodies of the catgut. 

The girl on the booms screwed up her fiddle and fell to 
playing. Every man then seized his partner, and all danced. 
It was the sailor's favorite dance — the polka, the only shuffle, 
besides the hornpipe, he seems to care about. 

The girls on the main deck came together in groups, and 
nudged each other with frequent titters, and some would step 
away over to leeward as though they could no longer con- 
descend to look on, but they always came back again. It was 
a pretty picture, humorous with Brigstock's long face and 
Miss Cobbs* bonnet alongside him nodding with the music. 


The sailors and the girls danced decorously and well. The 
shadows of the canvas and the red moist light of the sun 
touched the revolving forms, fied and touched them again, 
and it happened that the red light was always upon them 
when the bows sank, and threw up the blue mass of ocean 
ahead, foam streaked to the horizon, as high as the flying jib 
boom end, as a background for the twisting and sliding 
figures. I liked too the sight of the pretty, slender girl on 
the booms with her smiling face — her eyes on the dancers — 
aslant on the fiddle, and her slender arm sawing gracefully as 
the bough of a tree bends and lifts with a breeze. 

The man at the wheel was Weatherwax, and his partner, 
Maggie Dobree, stood with Sarah Salmon, Harding's choice, 
near Brigstock and Miss Cobbs, looking on. There were 
nine, couples, and they covered the forecastle with dancing 
shapes. I watched them for a quarter of an hour and then 
went below. 

In about an hour I returned to see how the dancing 
progressed. The sun was gone, but a wide flush of dying 
sunlight filled the fresh wind with a solemn beautiful color, 
like that which irradiates a cathedral through painted windows. 
I'd scarcely got my head out of the companionway when 
I heard a noise of screeching voices, and running to the break 
of the poop, I saw two women fighting abreast of the galley 
door. The scene with its crowds of women and sailors, the 
two hair-pulling and shrieking females, the shouts of men and 
the yelping and laughter of girls, made that fore end of the 
ship look like a street in a low neighborhood when an alley 
row is in full flower. Brigstock from the head of the fore- 
castle steps was roaring to the people to separate the women. 
Jupe Jackson was yelling, " Give over, Kate ; there's no harm 
done ! You're too much for her with them fists o* yourn ! " 

Though the women were separated after a few minutes, 
they fought in that time with bloody desperation and tigerish 
rage. They pulled each other's hair down, they pulled each 
other's hats off, they scratched and bit and kicked, their 
dresses flew as they tugged and clawed and sprang, and 
a light shawl streamed in rags from the shoulders of one of 
them like bunting wrecked with shot. The most dreadful 
part was the noise they made : they screeched like railway 
whistles, they howled like the jackals of the Hooghly, they 
moaned like midnight cats. 

"What's the matter there?" I called down the slant of the 
poop to Harding, who at once came up to me. 

" Bit of a flare up 'twixt Kate Davis and one of the gals/' 


he answered in his sour voice and sulky manner. "Along 
o' jealousy, I allow. Can't tell 'ee the cause, sir." 

By this time the fight was over, the women had been 
separated. Kate Davis of the huge arms was being lovingly 
led on to the forecastle by the man Jupe Jackson. The 
woman she had fought was coming aft in the heart of a crowd, 
every tongue in which was going. She was crying violently. 
The light was bad, but I thought I could see a very gridiron 
of red scars upon her face. Her hat was gone, her hair tum- 
bling and blowing about her. Every now and again she'd 
oblige the crowd to stop while she checked her passion of 
weeping to shake her fist at the forecastle. 

Shortly after she had disappeared Brigstock came aft. 

" What's been wrong with you forward ? " said I. 

" That there Jupe," he answered, " has got hold of a pardner 
as is simply ate up with jealousy. While dancing she tripped, 
hurt her foot, and had to rest. Jupe, not being able to stand 
still — the fiddling lady keeping all on, jer see — calls to the 
females on the main deck and asks one of them to dance with 
him. There was^ two of my mates' pardners lying idle, but the 
feeling's strong against a man meddling with another's choice, 
and I'm for encouraging of it. Unfortunately the party as 
steps up to Jupe was a girl he had a sorter mind to afore he 
settled on Kate Davis. There jer have it. The sight of Jupe 
sliding round with his arm round another female's waist was 
more'n that there Kate could stand. She hups and sauces 
the gal as she passes. The gal sneers. Kate follows her off 
the fo'c's'le, and then comes the hollering and scratchin'." 

" You'll want a law against jealousy in your constitootion," 
said I. " If this sort of thing's going to happen stand by for 
a general cap^zal long before you've roofed yourself down 
and become a village." 

" There'll be no more dancing forrard," said he grimly. 

As he spoke, the darkness of the night seemed to come with 
the noise of a gun out of the east in a sudden shrilling and 
piping gust of the trade breeze. 

" Down — fore topmast stuns'l ! " cried T, and in a few 
minutes the male dancers were cutting capers afresh as they 
shortened sail. 



THE women's plot. 

For ten days all went quietly. We ran through the trade 
wind into light head breezes, sighting nothing. Every morn- 
ing and every afternoon my company of women assembled on 
the poop, and by this time they knew the names of the run- 
ning gear and of the sails and yards, and many of them could 
spring to the right rope and let it go as promptly as a seaman. 
I taught them to pull with a will and all together. I found, 
however, that not more than seven were likely to prove of use 
at the helm. Three gave up after a few days, but their places 
were at once filled. 

Kate was now playing the boatswain's pipe with some skill. 
She wore it round her neck, and regularly called the female 
mariners to school with its music. But neither Brigstock nor 
Harding, nor indeed any of the men, helped me. Not that 
Brigstock was to blame. He was willing to teach, but the 
girls refused to learn fronj him. Alice Perry declared she 
would " knock off " if he taught, and her face was on fire with 
mutiny and hate as she said so. Fearing that if Brigstock 
obeyed my orders, the scheme would fall through, I told him 
not to trouble himself. It was not work I could impose 
as a duty, and as I did not choose to court the insolence 
of a refusal, I took no notice of Harding's neglect of my 

Thus was it with us on the tenth day following that incident 
of the fight between the two girls. 

It was a quiet morning, the sea swelling gently out of the 
south, but the wind north, a light breeze, and the ship was 
wrinkling along with almost square yards. 

I had been having a long talk with Kate down in a corner 
of the quarter-deck. She still persisted in refusing to use the 
after part of the ship. Her delicacy I considered extravagant, 
but I admired her spirit, and indeed was already fond of her, 
and in whatever she liked and chose to do she was to be 
allowed'her own way. Had it not been for her sensitiveness 
I'd have sent her twenty trifles out of the lazarette, where the 
cabin stores were. She said she could not take things to eat 
and drink into a hole and enjoy them secretly and meanly ; 
nor could she eat and drink them openly at table, where the 
sight of them would excite jealousy and ill feeling, and lead to 
difficulties through the " pardners " going to the sailors and 


telling them that the captain was favoring Miss Darnley and 
nobody else. 

To return. After my long chat with the girl I stepped on 
to the poop, and going a little way aft, leaned over the rail to 
get a view of the quarter boat as she hung at the davits, think- 
ing all the while what a noble ship this was, and how memora- 
ble above most sea feats would prove my preserving her and 
navigating her with women, should the gods suffer me to 
achieve it. 

While musing I heard my name called, and saw Alice 
Perry, who was on top of the poop ladder, looking toward me. 

Brigstock, on the other side of the deck, called out, " Now, 
young woman, I must beg and pray of you not to come up 
here unless you're sent for." 

She did not answer him, and I approached her. 

" What do you want ? " I said. 

" Captain," she answered, " there's several of us 'ud like a 
few words with you in the cabin." 

" Nothing wrong, I hope," said I, struck by her face of 
angry determination, and I sent a glance forward, wondering 
if this coarsely handsome girl, with her fine, saucy eyes, and 
strong, glaring teeth, had been affronted by any of the crew. 

" We have something to say," she answered in a low voice, 
sinking her glance after darting a look at Brigstock, *' which 
you may think of the greatest consequence." 
'I peered over the rail, and observed a lot of women stand- 
ing near the main hatch watching us. They all belonged to 
my company, as I called the girls I was training. I knew 
their names by this time. The group consisted of five : Emmy 
Reed, Charlotte Brown, Flo Lewis, Fanny Pike, and Mabel 
Marshall. Wondering what their business with me could 
signify, I told Alice Perry to enter the cuddy with the others 
by the quarter-deck door, and I went to meet them by way of 
the companion hatch. 

They came to the table. I asked them to sit, and they were 
about to do so when Alice Perry, looking up at the open sky- 
light, exclaimed, " Not 'ere; Brigstock 'II be listening." They 
passed to the after end of the table and sat down beside the 
shaft of mizzenmast. 

" Who'll speak it ? " said Alice Perry, looking at her com- 

" Yourself ; there's none better," answered one of them. 

"Captain," said Alice Perry, standing up, "d'yer mind 
drawing closer ? Us girls have been talking things over, and 
we've come to tell you of our plot," said she, eying me with 


her bold, extraordinary spirited stare, her face full of charac- 
ter and resolution. " Since you've took us in 'and and taught 
us all about the riggin's and sails of the ship^ we feel hable to 
do without the sailors." 

She paused. I smiled and said, " Not yet a while. There's 
none good enough yet for the wheel in bad weather, and how 
should we manage aloft ? " 

** Give me a man's clothes ; I'm not afraid of climbing," 
she cried. 

" Lower, Miss Perry ; lower," exclaimed the woman Emmy 

" What's your plot, young ladies ? " said 1. 

" Why are we to be carried into a part of the world that 
aint in our road, and kept in this ship against our wills, hunt- 
ing about for an island to suit the convenience of the beast 
Brigstock and the beastess Cobbs, and the degraded lot that's 
goin' along with 'em?" said Alice Perry, with a sudden pale- 
ness of wild anger in her face. 

" Lower, Miss Perry ; lower," exclaimed Emmy Reed. 

" Tell the capt'n it, do," said a girl, whose shrewd feminine 
sight was beginning to see impatience in me. 

" Look here, sir," said Alice sinking her voice, " our plot's 
this : we want you to tell us how to put the hatch on in the 
place where the crew sleeps so as to imprison *em. They must 
all be there. It could be done when you've ordered 'em all 
below, only we should want to be taught how to secure the 
cover of the square hole they passes through. As to Brig- 
stock," she went on, growing a little shrill with the energy of 
her temper and the rapidity of her utterance, " if there's no 
excuse to send him into the men's place, zxiAyouWe not willing 
to lay hands upon him, I'll engage with others to tie an' lock 
him up in any part you please to name." 

They looked at me to observe the impression produced by 
these words. I was more interested and perhaps amused than 
astonished, and stepped under the skylight to make sure that 
Brigstock was not listening. Plenty of women were on the 
quarter-deck, but none at the door and windows as before 
when I had talked in this cuddy. 

" Your scheme," said I, " is original and bold, but not prac- 
ticable. That being so, I am placing myself in a desperately 
perilous position by listenipg to you." 

" Why ? It's our secret," exclaimed one of the girls 
named Fanny Pike, a strong £ind hearty freckled lass of about 

" Have others besides you six spoken of this plot ? " 


" All us girls as you're teaching of are in it," answered 
Alice Perry. 

'* Suppose the men imprisoned, what's the next thing to 

" Why, you'd navigate us to a place that's near, if there is 
such a place, where we'd get help, and then you'd steer us 
straight to Australia," said Alice. 

** I should be for sailing straight 'ome, and 'anding Brig- 
stock and the men and that ogious 'orror Cobbs hover to the 
horficers of the law," exclaimed a woman. 

" Nothing in the shape of your scheme is to be thought of," 
said I. '' How could I handle a ship full of women and not a 
soul in her able to go aloft — in these seas anyway? It'll be 
diflFerent in the Pacific, after the weeks of training you'll have 
had by then — that's to say, if you're willing to go on learning 
under me." 

Alice Perry, with her knitted black eyebrows, daring, staring 
eyes, and heap of thick finger-swept black hair over her brow, 
looked savage as a murderess with disappointment. 

" Why aint we to be let do it ? " she cried. " Are we to be 
kept messing about in this ship to suit Cobbs and the others ? 
/'d^give 'em 'usbands if I had my way ! If it aint to be done 
at once, why not later when we're more perfick ? As to climb- 
ing — try me ! I'll find you others no more frightened of them 
ladders than if they was staircases." 

" It's not to be thought of," I repeated firmly but sooth- 
ingly. " And now we must invent some excuse for your wait- 
ing upon me. I must be ready with an answer to Brigstock." 

Alice Perry, with a snap of her fingers and a fiery toss of her 
head, flounced out of the cuddy, hissing a tune through her 
teeth in her rage as she went. Two of the others followed 
her. The remainder got up, but listened to me. 

"You've sought information about the situation of the 
ship," said I coolly. " It's quite reasonable you should wish 
to know where we are and how far distant Sydney may be 
from the island that suits the Brigstock lot. Tell that to 
Alice Perry and the others ; we must stick to one story. And 
be advised by me ; if I say no to your scheme it's because I'm 
a sailor and intend under God that you shall keep your lives 
and go ashore in Sydney in safety," and making them a bow, 
I entered my cabin. 

I was wise to be ready with an answer. No sooner did 
Brigstock catch sight of me when I went ovf deck than he 
stepped up and asked what the females wanted. My reply 
satisfied him, then without seeming abruptness I led him from 


the subject and got him to talk of his scheme. This put him 
into a good temper. He asked me if I had looked through 
the ship's papers carefully. I answered I had. 

" Are jer a judge of the value of goods, sir ? *' said he. 

" What sort of goods ? " 

" The cargo of this ship, for instance ? " 

" No." 

" We don't want to take in value more than what our wages 
comes to, with a margin for a claim for having saved the ship, 
which we reckon we're entitled to, seeing we found a navigator 
for her when she was without wan." 

" You can't claim for the safety for the ship till you hear of 
her arrival." 

" That's true. But if she's to go down arter we leave her 
the cargo we take's better ashore than under water, aint it ? " 
he exclaimed, with a grave, knowing grin. 

I broke off to measure the sun's height, and no more was 

After dinner I went to the quarter-deck to find Kate, and 
brought her on to the poop, where I related the proposal the 
six women had made to me that morning. 

" Will it be done ? " she cried with an eagerness almost 

" Why, no," I answered, and I repeated the reasons I had 
given the girls. 

She looked up at the masts and said, "Why couldn't you 
provide for the sailors to take off most of the sails before the 
women imprison them ? There'd be no need to climb then. 
You'd leave sails enough to blow the ship forward, but not 
enough to need removing if a heavy wind arose." 

" You'll never command at sea." 

"My heart knows I would not for a million pounds." 

"What would the men think if I reduced canvas down to 
the topsails, .say, in fine weather ? And don't you know that 
at any hour we might encounter a gale which would make that 
main topsail up there too much for the ship by the whole of its 

" I don't understand you. But I think the girls' scheme 
audaciously clever and practicable." 

" Always sink your voice when we near that fellow Harding. 
Look at his ears : big as mantelpiece oyster shells. We are 
going along very comfortably. Why do you want to lock up 
the men and so jeopardize the lives of the whole blessed lump 
of us ? The fellows are behaving quite well. No rows, no 
affronts, no drink, no noise ; this is the part of my yarn that 


won't be believed. The men are under the influence of 
Brigstock ; let me help them to realize their island dream. 
I've no right to imprison them. They're not offering to run 
away with the ship or planning anything scoundrelly. It suits 
my prospects to leave things as they are, Kate. I want to get 
money and command out of this hull, and who knows for all 
your precious delicacy and fastidiousness you'll not end in 
using the cuddy below on your voyage home ? " 

She started and stared and turned red. 

" Passage home ! " she echoed in a low voice full of astonish- 
ment. " What do you mean ? " 

'' If the command of this ship is given to me at Sydney, and 
I offer you a passage home, will you accept ? " 

" Certainly not ! " she exclaimed with some fire. " Why 
should I go home ? For the sake of another passage out, after 
starving in a garret till the ship sailed ? " 

I eyed her with a smile, and then asked her to step on the 
quarter-deck and pipe my girls to school. She went at once, 
looking very puzzled, with much color in her face. A sailor in 
the waist laughed uncontrollably when her pipe sounded. It 
was still very quiet weather, the right kind of day for helm 
practice. About fifteen girls assembled ; after waiting a minute 
or two I inquired for the others. Susannah Corbin answered, 
" Alice Perry says she aint a-going to learn any more." 

" Alice Perry's but one," said I. " Why don't the rest 
come ? " 

" Miss Perry's been going about asking us not to," answered 
the girl. 

I made no remark, though I was extremely vexed. It looked 
as if my scheme of a company of female mariners must fall to 
pieces. If it failed me I foresaw insuperable difficulties, along 
with the blankest disappointment of my secret earnest hopes. 
However, I kept my temper, and held my tongue, and carrying 
the women aft, bade the helmsman stand aside, and gave three 
of the girls a lesson at the wheel. I say three ; only that 
number out of the fifteen were good for anything at the helm. 
The other four who were better than these were among those 
who had absented themselves. 

This training job, first at the wheel, then at going the rounds, 
making the girls pull together to a song, and the like, occupied 
two hours. During much of this time Alice Perry and the 
rest of my women watched us from various parts of the deck, 
Alice commonly is a posture of defiance, her head thrown back, 
her arms crossed upon her breast, a sneering expression upon 
her face. 


I went up to her when my work with the others was over, 
and asked her to step with me into the cuddy. 

" Alone ? " she exclaimed in a sulky voice. 

'• Yes." 

" What do you want ? " 

" A short chat." 

She followed me into the cuddy, stepping with a sullen swing 
of her body ; I stopped her at the foremost end of the cabin 
table so that all on the quarter-deck should have us in sight. 
I could see now that she had the spirit of a devil. Yet it was 
because of her fierce temper and lawless looks that I wanted 
her ; indeed she was the best of my " hands," and I meant 
that in some time to come she should be breeked and show 
the way aloft. 

So I talked to her in the kindest tones I could assume. 
There was here now a necessity to be candid ; I must take my 
chance of my plans reaching the forecastle. I said bluntly I 
intended to work the ship to Sydney with the aid of the women 
after the crew had left her. I told her what might happen if 
we shipped strangers out of those South Seas — spun yarns of 
crimes committed by seamen in the islands, in the Caroline 
and Fiji groups particularly, and presently had the. satis- 
faction of finding her listening with her mouth open, and 
her breathing quick as though she was reading an exciting 

Brigstock came into the cuddy and passed us to enter his 
cabin. He looked at us with an air of gloomy surprise. I 
brought the girl to the other side of the table and proceeded 
to reason with her in a sunk voice. The women on the quarter- 
deck glanced in as they passed the door. Once a group came 
to a stand on the threshold ; they were of that lot of my party 
of girls whom Alice Perry had talked into keeping away ; I 
motioned them off, and they went away arm in arm, one strik- 
ing up " Hever of Thee ! " and the rest joining in. 

** Miss Alice," said I softly and coaxingly to this hand- 
some young devil of a housemaid, for that was her walk, I 
recollect, ** I cannot do without you. You are the daisy of my 
company. I'll put you into a man's clothes when the men are 
gone — a sweet sailor you'll make ; when we get to Sydney 
they'll print your likeness in the papers. You know you're 

At this she laughed. What white teeth it has ! thought I. 

"You're handsome now, and when we cast anchor in 
Sydney Bay you'll have been brave. Beauty and courage in 
a woman out in the colonies are thought more off than a for- 


tune in England. I shall be dancing at your wedding, my 
dear, though I may not be two months in Australia." 

" Garn ! " she exclaimed, trying to hold her face, but her 
eyes were filled with delight. Gratification was too strong, 
and she burst into another laugh. 

'^ Aint he amusing her just ! " said a woman looking in at 
one of the windows. 

I continued to flatter her a while longer, finding she liked 
it ; then guessing I had talked enough, I took her on to the 
quarter-deck and left her. 

The weather that night was wonderfully quiet. The wind 
had shifted, and blew abeam. When I was on deck at two 
bells, nine o'clock, the gloom was deepened by a sort of 
vaporish thickness, and the stars were so few you could have 
counted them. I found Brigstock conversing with three of 
the seamen at the head of the poop ladder. They did not 
suspect my presence, but their voices were pitched in a low, 
growling key, as though they were anxious not to be over- 
heard. On perceiving me the men slunk down the ladder, 
and Brigstock went to leeward and walked aft, mute as a 

I made nothing of this, merely supposing that they had been 
talking over their island scheme. 

All the women were under hatches. The decks were silent 
and deserted to the sight. No sheen of light was visible 
anywhere except in the skylight, under which the cabin lamp 
was burning. The ship floated through the stillness and the 
darkness of the sea in a bulk of defined hard shadow, like the 
base of a hill upon whose sides and shoulders at midnight a 
white mist sleeps. Brigstock remained standing beside the 
man at the helm. They both talked, but in very low voices. 
I considered this conversation with the helmsman a piece of 
insolent behavior in Brigstock, seeing that I was on deck, but 
always when it came to any passion like resentment in me 
I felt the underlying mockery of my situation, and was 

The helmsman was Isaac Coffin ; I knew him by his voice. 
I paced quietly, with one of Captain Halcrow's cigars in my 
mouth, and abandoned myself to twenty pleasing dreams of 
the future. My thoughts ran swiftly ; they went to the Hebe 
and to the Caroline, and back again to Blathford, and my 
summer rambles with Kate, then, with greater velocity than 
light, ahead to Sydney, where I realized this ship's arrival, and 
smiled at the vision of a crew of women in the male duds of 
the vessel's slop chests. 


While I was thus thinking, nothing disturbing the stillness 
but the subdued growling of the voices at the wheel, and a 
dim noise of passing waters, like to the sound of autumn 
leaves gently rustling over a gravel path, I heard a most 
extraordinary moaning high up in the air. I stopped thunder- 
struck and looked straight up, where a pallid star was trem* 
bling, as though I expected to behold a flight of shadowy 
spirits over our masthead. To this moment I don't know 
what that noise was, unless, indeed, it was some mighty pro- 
cession of sea fowl very high in air, and raising cries that 
they might keep together. 

A more melancholy sighing note never sounded through the 
hush of ocean. It was faint and female in tone, a strange, 
long-drawn wailing. It died out slowly, as the sound of a 
railway train dies along a valley on a quiet night. 

" Good God ! Isaac, what was it ? " exclaimed Brigstock. 

I went aft and exclaimed, " Did you ever hear the like of 
that noise before ? " 

" Sort o* prophecy, I allow," said Coffin. 

" Of what ? " 

" Of trouble — of trouble," grumbled Brigstock in a gruflf, 
quarrelsome voice ; and clearly wishing not to converse with 
me, he rolled away forward and vanished off the poop. 

I ascribed the man*s manner to some irrational fit of ill 
temper, such as frequently visits seamen. Sailors are fed on 
food in the last degree indigestible ; the influence of the liver 
upon the brain is among those things which make us know 
how fearfully and wonderfully we are made ; a sailor's curses, 
maledictions, and blasphemies are scarcely more than a fore- 
castle reproduction or expression of beef and pork salted into 
an innutritious hardness maddening to soul and body. I 
considered Brigstock's digestion as upset, and resumed my 
walk after a glance at the compass card. 

Presently I heard voices forward. I could not distinguish 
accents nor shapes, but judged by the grumbling that more 
than the watch were talking together ; certainly Brigstock 
was one of the speakers. I would not seem to listen by paus- 
ing, but now a sudden anxiety fell upon me ; I did not under- 
stand the meaning of that black, secret council, and every 
time I approached the break of the poop I suspended my 
breathing and bent my ear most strenuously, but never once 
caught a syllable. 

On a sudden a light glimmered in the black oblong of the 
main hatch, down which the leg of the windsail was working 
as though some gigantic white serpent were making its way 


out of the 'tween decks toward the mainmast head. The figure 
of a woman holding a lantern came up ; she approached the 
post of the poop ladder, at the head of which I was now 
standing. The light she held revealed her ; it was Miss 
Cobbs. I instantly called to know what she wanted. She 
answered in tones of horror and agitation : 

" One of the women, Mary Lonney, has cut her throat." 

I flung my cigar away, and ran down the ladder exclaiming, 
" Is she dead ? " 

As I said this the men who had been talking forward came 
aft in a hurried tread, full of alarm ; it was that sort of rush 
of feet you'll hear at sea when an order whose instant execu- 
tion means life or death is shouted out. 

" What is it ? " shouted Brigstock ; and in a trice seven or 
eight seamen were all about Miss Cobbs, their forms thrown 
up by the light she held. 

" Thomas ! " cried the matron, " one of the women's cut 
her throat." 

" That'll be the meaning of the noise in the air just now," 
said a voice. 

I saw a huddle of figures, seemingly in their bedclothes, 
like a pale cloud on the white steps of the main hatch. 

" Lead me to the woman. Miss Cobbs," said I. 

" Mr. Morgan," exclaimed Brigstock, thrusting up close and 
defiantly, and speaking fiercely with passion, though slowly, 
" you're unfaithful to your trust, and a villain, and we dorn't 
mean to have anything more to do with you." 

I sprang back a step with my blood on fire, and clenching 
my fists, and throwing myself into a posture of defense, I 
cried : " Villain, is it ? You dog ! " 

Even as I spoke I was seized by four men — they and the 
others of them letting fly, all together, fifty yells and shouts 
of abuse, reproach, insult, curses — and as helpless as though 
heavily ironed, I was rushed into the cuddy, and tumbled 
headlong into my cabin. 



They flung me into the cabin with so much violence that I 
was, in a manner, stunned. I fell upon my knees, but got up in 
a moment, and stood with my hand upon the edge of the bunk 
while I fetched my breath and collected myself. 


The cabin was pitch dark. After my panting had sobered 
into measured breathing, I groped for a match and lighted the 
cabin lamp and observing blood on my hand, looked in the 
glass and beheld the skin over my left eyebrow broken and 
the wound bleeding. The injury was trifling. I bathed it, 
and the cold water was as helpful as a tonic draught. 

Twice now had I been locked up in this cabin. What did 
Brigstock intend ? What did he imagine he had discovered 
against me ? My heart raged when I thought of how I had 
been used and addressed ; how I had been called villain, 
sworn at, dragged with curses to this cabin, like a savage, 
dangerous dog to its chain and kennel. What had I done ? 
Not being able to answer that, I thought : What's the fresh 
scheme the men have in their heads ? I tried to recall any 
piece of behavior, any sentence or look in Brigstock or the 
others, to give me a hint. Had they abandoned their resolu- 
tion to settle an island ? If so, they had forced their new 
humor with amazing swiftness upon Brigstock, who certainly, 
down to a recent hour, was as much in earnest in his South 
Sea project as ever I had found him. 

They were without a navigator. What would they do ? 

As realization of the significancy of the men's treatment of 
me grew my wits seemed to leave me. I paced the cabin 
with my soul racked with rage. My splendid dream of pre- 
serving and carrying this ship into safety was ended ! The 
trouble I had taken in training the women was wasted toil, 
made useless in a few minutes, as one might say. I felt ill, as 
though fever stricken. It was not only the insult, the alley- 
bully usage of me, the disappointment ; mingled with the 
violent sensations of that time was the shock of the news 
Miss Cobbs had given. Even at the very moment of hearing 
that a woman had cut her throat I was called villain, brutally 
laid hold of, flung like a slaughtered beast into this cabin, 
and locked up. 

Some brandy was in the locker, and cold water in a brack- 
eted decanter. I mixed a drink, and sat down to think and 
listen. All was silent in the cuddy ; overhead sounded occa- 
sionally the creaking of a pair of boots. Sometimes I seemed 
to hear faintly a sound of men's and women's voices. I 
sought to hearten myself by thinking that the crew could not 
do without me, but I found no hope in that reflection when I 
recollected Brigstock's insult and the men's behavior. 

The hours rolled by. If anyone entered the cuddy I did 
not hear him. All my speculations now ran in the direction 
of the crew's intentions. I heard no bells, and was without a 


watch. Though sleepless with feverish excitement, I stretched 
myself along in my bunk, where I lay with my head full of 
burning thoughts. 

I slept at last for an hour or two, and when I awoke the 
day had broken. I glanced through the porthole and found 
the weather gloomy and thick, a look of fine drizzling rain in 
the atmosphere, the wind a light breeze abeam, and a slug- 
gish lift of gray swell out of the south. We were in motion ; 
I marked the passage of a patch of f roth, and the speed was 
about four. 

Where were the crew heading the vessel, and what did they 
mean to do with her ? My short spell of rest had done me 
good ; I could think without passion, but heavy anxiety 
weighed upon my spirits. 

It might have been about eight o'clock when the key was 
turned, and Gouger stepped in with some breakfast. He put 
the tray rudely down on the deck with a scowl on his face, and 
went out, heeding me no more than had the cabin been empty, 
though he took care to lock the door. The tray was heaped 
with the usual stuff — a cup of black tea, biscuit, preserved 
meat, a piece of cold pork ; they did not mean to starve me. 
I was somewhat cheered by the sight of this food, and ate 
with tolerable appetite. 

While breakfasting I heard voices in the cuddy ; I arrested 
the movements of my jaws to listen ; Brigstock's and Hard- 
ing's voices were easily distinguishable ; I also thought I could 
distinguish Miss Cobbs' high notes, and there was a fourth, 
one of the seaman, probably Jackson. The bulkheads were 
thick and the conversation hard to catch. I heard Brigstock 
say, " The course is right. She can't hurt as she goes. Some- 
thing's bound to be coming along soon." 

" It's a pity," said Miss Cobbs, " that he should have proved 
such a treacherous wretch. All was going on so well." 

Harding said something in his deep, sour voice. Brigstock 
exclaimed, " Aye, aye, I should have thought he'd got more 
sense." The voices then sank and presently ceased. 

What was the treachery I was suspected of ? Brigstock's 
remark that something was bound to come along soon was the 
same as saying that they were on the lookout for a new navi- 
gator. How would they dispose of me ? I asked of God that 
I might not be inhumanly used. I had already since sailing 
from Bristol suffered so much, experienced such quick and 
rapid changes, that a few weeks had compassed more for me 
than is endured by men in half a century of seafaring. The 
idea of having to forfeit this ship, whose preservation had 


been the glowing star of my future, was an anguish of disap- 
pointment. What would Kate and the rest of the women who 
were not partners think? Lord, thought I, if that devil- 
possessed girl Alice Perry would but work out her plot now! 
Will it enter Kate's head to advise her and the others to clap 
the hatches on such men as might be below at the time, and 
secure the rest by the strength and passion of numbers ? 
Suppose six of them trapped ; it might not be hard to im- 
prison the other six by stratagems, by calling one here and 
another there, thus separating them, then by the women fling- 
ing themselves upon the fellows. 

The morning slipped away ; nobody came to my cabin. 
I was sensible of a silence hanging upon the ship ; the quiet 
was not due to my being in a part of her where all noises from 
the deck reached me dimly, whence I suspected that the men 
were keeping a large portion of the women at a time below, 
fearing trouble. Or was it the influence and awe of death 
upon the ship that held her hushed ? The shock of suicide 
would be violent throughout those 'tween decks of women. 
By this time, too, they had doubtless buried the body, and the 
gloom of that business would be upon the spirits of the peo- 
ple, who'd also be restless and frightened, wild in their 
whispers and looks to the degree of making the sailors afraid 
of them, and of keeping half of them under, on learning 
that I was a prisoner, and the ship without a navigator. 

At about one the young seaman Gouger brought me my 
dinner. I addressed him, but he neither answered nor looked 
at me. He had clearly received his instructions, and went 
out with rude defiant motions of his body, locking the door 
noisily after him. 

The afternoon passed ; a second night came. There was 
oil in my berth. I trimmed and lighted the lamp, and tried to 
divert my mind by reading a volume of tales I took from the 
shelf, but could not fix my attention. I lighted a cigar and 
smoked in my bunk with my legs over the edge, lost in gloomy, 
anxious thoughts. I had expected a visit from Brigstock, and 
found something sinister in his absence. Of what was I 
guilty .> Why did not the fellow come down into my cabin and 
charge me, and hear me, and give me a chance to prove I had 
been and still was loyal to the office the crew had tricked me 
into accepting ? 

I was a bit unmanned by my confinement, by the suspense 
I was kept in, by a passion of disappointment fiery and wast- 
ing. I had slept but little. This night I did not close my 
eyes. I started at every sound, and once, hearing a footstep 


in the cuddy just outside my door, I sprang from my bunk 
and seized a dinner knife from the supper tray, intending if 
I was to be dealt with like a rat in a hole the business should 
be hot and bloody for more than one. 

All these fears my secret instincts pronounced irrational. 
But frightened I was, nevertheless, and I lay sleepless, every 
sound making my heart loud in my ears. 

Throughout the night the weather was quiet, but thick. 
The breeze blew damp and chill through my open porthole, 
the bleaker, perhaps, for the melancholy noises of the sea as it 
washed to the bends, falling away in a low moaning charged 
with a snakish, stealthy hissing. I kept the lamp alight, and 
frequently glanced at the compass, and observed that they 
kept the ship sailing along the course I had left her heading. 

Daybreak found me with my face at the porthole, gazing at 
the disk of ocean the sea window framed. I watched the 
green of the east sifting westward. The shape of the near 
surge grew defined, and the horizon ran hard and black as 
the rim of an ebony table against the pale heavens. The 
weather had cleared, but in as much of the heavens as I could 
command I saw the shadows of squall clouds, and a promise 
of wet in long streaks of liquid gray vapor hanging low over 
the western sea line. 

The sun had scarcely risen when there was a commotion 
overhead. They were trimming sail, I thought. Coils of 
rope were flung down. The hoarse notes of seamen singing 
out reached me, and I guessed by the confused shuffling of 
feet that the main brace was stretched along. The wind had 
been somewhat abaft the beam. Presently the compass showed 
that the helm had been shifted so as to bring the breeze a 
couple of points more forward. The rolling of the ship 
wanted the bouyancy of the propelled hull, and on taking 
another glance through the porthole I saw that the vessel had 
been brought to a stand. 

An hour passed, during which all was quiet. Not a sound of 
any sort was there save the slopping of water under the port- 
hole. The sea was of a sallow blue. A small squall of rain 
veiled the horizon with a slanting gray mist right abreast of 
me. A rainbow was flickering upon the delicate crystal dust. 
While I watched this squall its skirts thinned to the south- 
ward and exposed the canvas of a vessel, bright as polished 
resplendent steel in the moist flash of * sun it caught as the 
weeping shadow left it. 

While I looked, easily conceiving the trick Brigstock was 
going to play, Gouger unlocked the door and entered with my 


breakfast. I glanced over my shoulder, then went on watch- 
ing the distant vessel. He put the tray down as before, and 
went out without speaking a word. I often recall, but not with 
wonder, the effect of that young brute's silence upon me. The 
part of the new tragic passage hardest to bear was the dumb 
entrance of that dog with my meals. His behavior deepened 
suspense ; it was a sort of mute black hint of what I was to 
expect ; and then, again, there was the irritation of its in- 

The sail speedily slided out of the sphere of the porthole. 
Not being able to see, I strained my hearing, wondering 
whether she would pass within hail, if she would stop to speak 
us, if she would send a boat, and be tricked as the Caroline 
had been. 

Another long hour passed ; the breeze was steady, with an 
occasional rush of rain squall through it ; westward the 
liquid gray streaks had risen, and the horizon was vague. On 
a sudden, whether owing to a shift of our helm, the sail came 
sliding fair into the round frame of the port. She was a large 
three-masted schooner, scarcely less than three hundred tons 
in burden, with immensely lofty, whip-like masts. The red 
flag of the English merchant service was flying at her mizzen- 
mast head. She lay all shaking within hailing distance, bow- 
ing the sea with wet flashes of streaming sheathing ; her 
shivering sails stood out in a dead sickly white against the 
pouring gray background afar. Several men were looking at 
our ship over her forecastle rail ; as she leaned her white decks 
toward us on the heave of the swell her little brass-bound 
wheel glowed like a circle of golden light in the grasp of the 
man at it ; close beside the helm stood a tall figure in the hat 
of a bandit and a short monkey jacket. I saw him step to the 
rail, and his cry came faintly along to my ears, but in the open 
above it doubtless sounded clear as a bell, for a voice I in- 
stantly recognized as Brigstock's bawled out : 

"The Earl of Leicester^ from Madras for the River 

Another question in a dim hallooing note came along on the 
light breeze from the schooner. Brigstock answered : 

" We're in great distress. All *ands have perished but us 
two. We can't board jer. My mate here's too ill to take a 

This man's ambition, thought I, is to be the father of a 
South Sea settlement whose government is to be based on 
Truth first of all. 

I did not need to go on deck to see the picture. I figured 


one of the men at the wheel in a drooping posture, as though 
faint ; Brigstock with long forlorn countenance in an attitude 
of entreaty ; the decks empty as when Blades and I were the 
victims of the dodge. The emigrants, of course, were under 
hatches. Doubtless the main hatch had been closed while they 
were at breakfast ; otherwise the women, guessing why they 
were to be sent below, through knowing I was locked up and 
through seeing the approaching vessel — recollecting also the 
spell of suffocation they had undergone while I was being 
maneuvered into the ship — might have given the men so much 
trouble as to kill this opportunity of tricking a navigator into 
the vessel. 

One or two more cries came from the schooner. By this 
time she had drifted out of the porthole, nor did Brigstock's 
answers distinctly reach me, owing to his having shifted his 
station, which had been exactly over my head. Now by the 
silence that fell I guessed the stranger was sending a boat. 
My heart beat hard. What did the fellows intend to do with 
me ? Presently I heard the muffled chafing of oars in row- 
locks and the noise of the shearing of a boat's sharp stem 
driving close on our quarter to pass under the counter. The 
suspense was horrible, my impatience maddening. After a 
little voices rumbled in the cuddy, whence I gathered that 
some of the men had softly stolen into that interior unheard 
by me to give the newcomer from the schooner the sort of 
greeting I had received ; in other words, to overawe him with 
the sight of their numbers. A minute after a hoarse voice 
bawled out : 

'* I'll be damned if you do ! Fire me if this han't worse 
than being shanghaied ! " 

This was followed by a roaring out of curses all in the same 
voice ; the seamen present joined in, and such a hellish hul- 
labaloo followed that I held my breath, expecting to hear cries 
of murder and groans. It seemed as if more than one of the 
schooner's men had come below, but I was mistaken. A pro- 
digious noise of scuffling arose. The seamen appeared to 
have found their match. Blasphemies flew thick as hail in an 
electric squall ; surging figures bumped with volcanic shocks 
against the bulkheads. 

" Why don't yer take it quietly ? " Brigstock bellowed. 

But though the heroic victim had been a giant he must have 
been still too few as one man for the number who had fallen 
upon him. Yet I reckoned it took them a full five minutes of 
heaving, wrestling, struggling, cursing, to get the fellow stowed 
in a cabin, where he pounded so furiously with boots and fists, 


shouting all the while with hurricane lungs to be let out, that 
I expected to hear him burst clean through the massive bulk- 

Hope had freshened in me while the uproar outside was 
going on. I thought to myself, the crew are not likely to 
depend upon such services as they must expect from the man 
they have brutally maltreated and locked up. They'll look to 
me again, and give me a chance of hearing what I am suspected 
of. But even while I thus thought, the key in my door was 
turned, the door itself rudely flung open, and Brigstock and 
two others, Hull and Luddy, appeared. 

" Put on your cap and follow us," said Brigstock, breathing 
short after the recent struggle, and discovering marks upon 
his face, and in his collar and cravat, of having been roughly 
handled ; " we don't want to lose no time." 

Here the prisoner in the berth opposite fell to kicking and 
pounding afresh with extraordinary violence, bawling that 
he'd cut the livers out of the whole ship's company when he 
got at them, and swearing diabolically as he vociferated the 

"What have I done to merit this treatment?" I asked. 

" You know," answered Brigstock with an ugly scowl. 
" Come on." 

The fellows beside him eyed me with the utmost malevo- 
lence, and there was a black threat in every posture and ges- 
ture of theirs, even in those few moments of pause. Luddy's 
lip was cut ; his chin was covered with blood. All three were 
in a dangerous temper. I knew myself to be white in the 
face, and was sick with the swift pulsing of my heart. Con- 
sider ! I had been locked up for many hours, in a continual 
state of wearing, desperate suspense, and now here were these 
fellows commanding me to follow them — to be how dealt with ? 
Yet though I could not control my color, I had my agitation 
well in grasp. I put my hat on, buttoned my jacket, and fol- 
lowed Brigstock up the companion steps, Luddy following at 
my heels, the other remaining below, possibly to watch beside 
the entrapped man's door. 

All to windward was gray with wet, and a thin drizzle, but 
not of a concealing sort, was driving along with the wind, 
which had freshened a trifle. None of the women were to be 
seen ; but though the gratings were on the main hatch, no 
tarpaulins hid them. The fore and after yards had been 
braced to give the vessel a distressed, ill-conditioned look. 
All topgallant hallyards had been let go, the mainsail clumsily 
hauled up, and the main topsail laid to the mast. Still the 


cunning rogues had not contrived the same perfect picture of 
distress which had greeted Blades' and my eyes. 

The two vessels had drifted apart, and the schooner lay 
about a mile distant, on the Earl of Leicester's quarter. I 
took in all that I am telling you in a single sweep of the eye. 
No time for a longer look was allowed ; Brigstock ran to the 
lee rail and sang down, *' Bring your boat to the main chains, 
and put this gentleman aboard your schooner." 

He then turned quickly upon me, and with a fierceness I 
should never have suspected in so formal, solemn, austere 
a devil, bawled, " Come, jump in, and thank yer God that 
yer've fallen into humane hands ! " by which I understood he 
meant himself and the crew. 

I went to the rail without a word, meaning to drop into the 
main chains and so gain the boat, but when I looked over I 
saw that she was holding off, with the three men in her star- 
ing like madmen, evidently scenting a stratagem from the 
sight of the several seamen whose figures were clear in their 

'' Haul in and take this man," said Brigstock. 

" Where's our second mate ? " sung out the fellow in the 
boat's bows. I see him now, a dingy blotch of face, scarcely 
visible for hair, surmounted by an old glazed hat without a 

" He's a-going to stop along with us. Haul in, I tell jer. 
This gen 'man '11 explain to your captain when jer put him 

'^ Splain what ? " roared the man in the bow of the boat. 

" Haul in, I tell jer." 

" We thought you was only two men ? " cried another of the 
fellows in the boat in loud, bellowing tones, full of astonish- 
ment and fear. 

As though operated on by one impulse, hardly had this man 
shouted when the three flopped down on the thwarts, chucked 
their oars over, and pulled away for the schooner with all 
their might. 



Brigstock stood idly looking for a moment or two at the 
receding boat. He then shouted out, " He must put himself 
aboard. Bill — Jupe — jump aft and lower away the gig. 
She'll be light enough for him to handle." 

ADRIFT. 205 

Three or four men rushed to do his bidding. The gig was 
the long, light, slender boat that hung by the davits outside, 
on a line with the taffrail. The sea ran without weight, the 
ship was without way and pitched softly, and the boat, with 
two men in her, sank securely to the water's surface, where the 
blocks were unhooked, and in a few minutes they had got 
her alongside, close against the lee main chains. 

Brigstock standing near me had watched these proceedings 
in silence. At the moment that the boat was lowered I cried 
in a sudden passion : 

'< Mr. Brigstock, what have I done to deserve this treat- 
ment ? •' 

He slowly turned his face, dark with temper, and said, *• I 
called you villain, and a villain you are. Jer'd have be- 
trayed us for all jer fine promises, though we used jer as 
a gen'man, and obeyed jer bidding, and gave jer the cabin 
to live in." 

He clenched both fists and literally shook with temper. 

At the sound of our voices the rest of the crew, who were 
scattered about the poop, evidently waiting for the signal to 
trim sail, gathered about us with looks so full of menace, 
mutiny, murder, that I instinctively felt if I did not quit this 
ship with a dumb tongue, a few minutes might find me a slain 
man, cut to the heart by a sheath knife, overboard, to plumb 
depths whose soundings I should never be able to report. 
And yet a madness of temper urged me to exclaim : 

" I'm no villain. I swear by my God I was serving you 
faithfully ! " 

" What's your notion of faithfulness ? " roared Harding, 
thrusting his bearded, sour face in a butting way close into 
mine. " Is it to batten men down — men you're a-professing 
to sarve, for to carry them to a port, and then give 'em up, you 
to pocket all the swag, and all the good as is to come along 
out of the job ! " He wagged his head at me in his wrath. 

" Leave him be ! " thundered Brigstock, putting his shoulder 
into the chest of the man Sampson, and heaving him halfway 
across the deck. " We've done so far without that^ and we 
want none** 

*• On deck there," hailed a voice from the boat alongside. 

" Over with jer ! " cried Brigstock, laying a heavy hand 
upon my shoulder. " The schooner '11 pick jer up." 

I shook the fellow's paw off, giving him a look of bitter 
reproach and hate, and half crazy with disappointment, humil- 
iation, the sense of atrocious injustice, I dropped into the 
main chains and jumped into the gig. The two men got out 


of the boat as I entered her. One had held to a channel plate 
by a boathook ; when he dropped the thing and jumped out 
the boat was adrift. 

There seemed an angry wobble of waters ; that was the 
sensation of her short, abrupt jumps to me, fresh from the 
comparative terra firma of the ship's deck. I stood, thick in 
head and blind in vision, with a sort of stupefaction of brain, 
till a leap of the boat flung me on to a thwart. The shock 
gave me my mind. Heavenly God ! thought I, if I don't 
make for the schooner I shall be adrift and alone ! Will she 
receive me ? And now I was possessed by a wild fear for my 
life, an unmanly horror, a panic terror. Never before in my 
life had my nerves so betrayed me. 

There were four oars in the boat, and a small mast and lug- 
sail. She was the captain's gig, and a smart boat, with bright 
gratings, and brass rowlocks, dangling by sennit lanyards. I 
threw her oars out, and got her head round on a line with the 
schooner. The swell ran with a lift and fall of fold that sunk 
the boat in a valley and poised her as on a hill, and the sur- 
face of those volumes of brine snapped and hissed with little 
seas. The gig went clear of the ship's quarter, and when out 
of the shadow and height of her — for her rolling hull and tow- 
ering spaces of sail blocked the sight as a terrace of cliff 
might — I found it was raining, no longer a thin drizzle, but 
driving lines of wet, gray everywhere, and in places thick as 

The schooner hung about a mile to windward, swollen and 
dim in the smother. She came and went, and went and came, 
regularly as a clock ticks, as the swell swallowed or hoisted 

On board the ship they trimmed sail the moment I had gone 
clear. The breeze was a beam wind for her course, and they 
braced to it, boarding the main tack and manning the main 
topgallant halyards as smartly as twenty men might ordinarily 
work that machinery of tackles. The fine ship felt the pres- 
sure promptly ; she heeled away from the breeze, and as her 
stern came dead on end, with a moist glitter of cabin windows, 
and a hand on the taffrail getting the gig's falls inboard, the 
white water leapt from her bends, and the foam of her forming 
wake boiled about her rudder. 

When I saw how thick the weather was. and how the shadow 
of the rain was still blackening into the atmosphere, I dropped 
the oars and stood up in the boat, and sent a long scream of 
despair at the figure of the fellow on the taffrail of the depart- 
ing vessel, but I question if he heard me, I doubt if he saw 

ADRIFT, 207. 

me. A few ship's lengths would carry one's eyes into blind- 
ness on such a day as that. Nay, even while I watched, with" 
a breaking heart and the chill and darkness of death upon 
my spirits, the ship died into shadow in the rain. 

The gig was light for a ship's boat, but heavy for one man 
to pull. The schooner was dead to windward, vague as a 
reflection in a mirror on which you have breathed, and all 
between was the ridging and feathering of the gray seas, more 
spiteful than the wind made them for the stubborn heave of 
the swell athwart their course. I soon saw I should be able 
to do nothing by rowing ; indeed the state of my mind had 
impaired me physically. I had lost my strength. I threw the 
oars in, and stepped the mast, but the boat was narrow ; it 
was to be a sheer beat to windward, and the lug was all too 
big for that dead-on-end breeze and jump of waters. So I 
stretched the sail along and tied a couple of reefs in it, drift- 
ing away to leeward meanwhile like the shadow of a bird 
floating down the wind, and when I had mastheaded the frag- 
ment of canvas, hauled the sheet aft, and got me to the yoke- 
lines, the ship was gone in the thickness, and away on the 
starboard bow — heading off, perforce, as my boat was — I beheld 
the schooner gathering way, and slowly forging northward, 
with her white sails breaking like the light of dawn through a 
sand-colored squall of wet she was in the heart of. 

I held on ; my seamanship was at a loss. The schooner, 
having got her boat, was proceeding on her voyage, making 
the best of a business her people could only wonder at and 
curse as a stratagem that might betray them into bloody 
results if they chased with the idea of looking further into it. 
That I was seen I will not say ; the gleam of my little white 
sail would blend with the sheeting of froth, and dance unno- 
ticed in the thickness. 

What was to be done ? Here was I adrift in an open boat 
without a drop of water to drink, without a crumb of biscuit to 
eat. The mere look of the schooner, dim as she was, with her 
leaning spars and forging fore foot and lofty spread of canvas, 
was such a hint of speed when the full power of the breeze 
should urge her that my immediate intention to shift the helm 
and follow her on a parallel line, with a prayer for the weather 
to clear, that I might be seen, fell dead. A second resolution 
seized me. I slackened away the sheet, and put the boat's 
head for the ship, which was out of sight, but whose bearings 
I judged of by the blowing of the wind. My poor miserable 
hope was that if the weather brightened they'd see me now 
my sail was hoisted, have mercy, and receive me to transship 


me afterward if occasion for that was not ended by my coming 
to a good understanding with them. 

I tried to pierce the vaporous thickness of rain. The swell 
ran at me ; each time I rose to the height of a brow that was 
all a-snarl and hissing white salt under the shrill thongs of 
the breeze I*d send a devouring look ahead, and sometimes 
fancy I saw a leaning square blotch far off. But the smother 
would close down again upon the sea, and leave me a view of 
scarce two miles of cold, dark gray waters, running jagged 
and brokenly over the folds swelling northward. Yet my boat 
made good weather. She leapt dryly, and ran like a streak of 
foam up the liquid acclivities, and fled buoyant as a running 
Mother Carey's fowl down into the hollows. 

I was sure they had dispatched me to board the schooner, 
if I could, without the least concern as to whether I reached 
her or not. The sea had been shrouded when I left the ship. 
Brigstock knew it, and he also knew as a seaman that it was 
next to certain I should miss the schooner and perish. It was 
like murdering me. What, then, on a sudden had made fiends 
of men whom I had found or fancied respectable, steady 
sailors, able to practice, not moderation, but abstinence, the 
hardest of all virtues, whether on sea or land ? 

I understood the reason, and cursed my folly. They had 
got scent of the ph)t my company of women had hatched and 
talked to me about. Had not Brigstock savagely said as 
much before I went over the side ? There had been misrepre- 
sentation ; the fellows were illiterate sailors, incapable of 
distinguishing, full of rough passions not hard to influence 
into criminal impulses. I guessed their women had had a 
hand in it ; they had gone from the 'tween decks, where my 
own party of females had been talking, and told the men, 
exaggerating their report into lies that I and the women I 
was making sailors of were concerting a plot to imprison 
Brigstock and the crew under hatches. That would be 
enough. There was no one to say them nay. They'd not 
have taken a denial from me, and therefore never charged me. 
The wonder is they did not cut my throat or hang me. 

From the very bottom of my soul rose my curses on my 
own stupidity. The whole thing was clear now — made clear 
by Brigstock's parting words. Had I confessed my sole 
object in disciplining the women they never would have sup- 
posed me guilty to such a degree as not to challenge and 
provide me with a chance to disprove the 'tween decks lies. 

Thus went my thoughts as the boat slipped along. My 
spirits were at their lowest with despair ; the afternoon was 

ADRIFT. 209 

fast going ; the thickness had a settled look ; there was no 
appearance of the sky clearing before the night fell. The 
chase was a hopeless one while the breeze held, for the object 
I pursued was a full-rigged sailing ship, whose speed com- 
pared to the gig's was as five to one, and there would be no 
possibility of any deliverance by her unless it fell calm, and 
she lay in sight, and I could use my oars. I was wet to the 
skin, but too seasoned as a seaman to heed that. The dread- 
fullest part was my being without food or drink ; nay, not so 
much as a sup of spirits to give me an instant's heart. And 
oh ! the devouring rage of disappointment when I thought of 
Kate, of the fine ship, of what I had lost, of the base, obscure 
death that seemed at hand — a rat's end ! a rat's end ! to perish 
thus under the weeping blank up there and out of the very 
sight of God himself ! 

It was not blowing harder, but it was as thick as ever with 
wet when the shadow of the night came along. I lowered the 
sail to make a house of, unstepped the mast, and frapped it 
and the oars into a sheaf which I flung overboard for a sea 
anchor to ride to — with a curse as I did so, so vile a savage 
was I then with despair and suffering. I was parched with 
thirst, hating life, yet felt an inward shrinking from death. 
Pulling the sail about me, I lay down in the stern sheets. I'll 
not recite the miseries of that night ; sufferings as great have 
been endured by men adrift and in open boats and on rafts, 
but none greater — no, not after days ; no, not even when it had 
come to the eating of human flesh. 

It was still thick at daybreak, with a heavy swell, always 
from the southward, little wind, and tain in places. So much 
had fallen in the night that I got a draught out of the bottom 
of the boat. I knelt down and sucked it up like a horse. It 
was slightly brackish with the impregnation of the timber by 
brine, but sweet as a draught of foaming soda water to my 
throat. There was plenty, but no vessel to hold it, and it 
washed about under the thwarts as the boat tumbled. 

I hauled in the sea anchor, stepped the mast, and hoisted 
the sail with both reefs out, shaping my course by the sulky 
redness in the east. My course ! By which I mean the ship, 
for she was probably the nearest to me of any craft in those 
seas then, not, perhaps, thirty miles off, to be sneaked into 
sight amid light bafHing airs should the horizon clear and 
give me three leagues of view before sundown. 

All that day it blew a light northwesterly wind. The sun 
showed at intervals, but the most part of the sky was a stretch 
of heaped-up vapor, swelled, and soft and moist, like wet 


smoke, if you can imagine the thing. It never ceased to rain 
in one place or another, and sometimes it fell in a living sheet 
off the edge of a cloud right overhead. Thus I got plenty of 
water to drink. The swell was small, and sluggish as liquid 
lead ; the boat floated languidly forward ; I kept my sail 
aloft for the sake of the gleam of it against the confused sooty 
background, which must throw it out sharp as a light to any 
eye on the sea line ; but nothing showed all day long. In- 
deed there was scarce wind enough to heave anything into 

I did not suffer much from hunger, thanks perhaps to the 
quantity of rain water I drank. But I was very weak, and felt 
sick and ill, and at sundown found myself scarcely strong 
enough to bind the oars and mast into an anchor to ride to 
during the hours of darkness. I stowed myself away under 
the sail with a short prayer to God to have mercy upon my 
soul if I died during the night, but I don't think I cared a 
finger snap how it should go with me, so poorly, so low, so 
heart-crushed was I. I slept in snatches and beheld horrible 
visions, and toward morning grew a bit light-headed, for I 
recollect talking aloud and laughing at what I said. Once I 
seemed to smell the sweetness of wet, new-cut grass, and 
crawled out of my sail to put my hand over the boat to grasp 
a handful. 

However, at sunrise I felt equal to getting in my sea anchor 
and hoisting the sail, and once more I started, heading south 
as on the previous day, for I had got this superstition upon 
me : that if I steered in any other direction than south I 
should sight nothing, and be found a corpse, if found at all. 

This was a fine day, the sun bright and hot,the sky full of large 
white clouds, mountainous, majestic, glorious in their sunward 
brows with prismatic light, and their violet shadows slept like 
islands upon the ocean. Toward noon I was tormented with 
hunger ; perhaps the pangs kept my head straight ; I doubt if 
I could have lost my mind while that physical distress was on 
me, as they say you can't die while you are in pain. 

But when this third night came I was too weak to make a 
sheaf of the oars ; I kept the sail mastheaded, and sat fair 
betwixt the yoke-lines, one on either thigh, and a nerveless 
hand upon each of them. And thus the boat drove stealthily 
along, straight before the wind, heading I don't know how, 
with a gentle simmering noise rising on either hand her, and 
many large stars trembling on high amid white puffs of vapor. 

As I afterward guessed, it was about midnight that I lifted 
my chin in a lifeless way off my breast, and looked with the 


languor of dying eyes ahead of me. There was a piece of moon 
over the sea, with an ice-like streak of light shivering under 
it. The circle came black as ebony to that streak, and the 
gleam clasped it in silver. The draught — the breeze was no 
more — ^was fanning faintly in the lugsail, which emptied and 
filled as the boat softly rose and sank. My hands upon the 
yoke-lines had kept the helm right amidships, and the gig had 
doubtless pursued the path of an arrow during my hours of 

My eye was resting dully and stupidly upon the ice-like 
shivering path of light upon the lee bow when it was taken 
by a deep shadow there. The moon's wake streamed hard by 
it. I started, and all that was left of vitality rushing into my 
vision then. I looked again and beheld a large ship, not two 
miles distant, whitening into the moonlight out of the deep 
dye of her hull, like a cliff soaring snow-clad from a base of 
dark rock. 

Presently the moon came over the ship where she was about 
a mile off. She stood black and clean-edged in outline, 
which enabled me to see she was hove to, with some sugges- 
tion of disorder in the manner her yards were braced, though 
of this I could not be sure. 

It was between one and two o'clock in the morning. Not a 
light gleamed on the fabric, no sound came from her save the 
occasional flap of canvas as she rolled. My eyes were dim 
with famine, suffering, the companionship of death in one of 
its most shocking aspects, and before I was up with the ship 
the moon was off her ; her hull was deep shadow again, and 
her canvas a pale cloud, yet I could see her well enough to 
steer straight. 

When I thought her within hail of my weak throat I tried 
to stand up while I sung out, but could not use my legs. I 
then endeavored to shout ; my voice was a husky whisper — 
the hideous articulation of the gaping and grinning mouth of 
thirst ! Without strength to rise, without voice to exert, O 
God, thought I, unless I am seen I shall strike stem on, slide 
past, float clear on the other side, and blow away into eternity ! 

In the instant of the above ejaculation of my soul the note 
of a powerful, familiar voice came along from the ship. 

" Boat ahoy ! " 

I was fainting, but consciousness pricked its ears afresh on 
hearing those tones. I recognized them, yet was too weak- 
headed to recollect the man's name. 

" Boat ahoy ! " 

I was now within a few ship's lengths of the vessel, heading 


to hit her a little forward of the main chains, with just enough 
of sense in me to hope that the channels would hook the boat 
before she slided clear, or the main brace foul her mast and 
arrest her way should she slip astern. This had been in my 
head before I heard the voice, but now, being hailed, I knew I 
was seen, and, being seen, that I should be rescued. 

I dimly distinguished a group of shadows near the mizzen 
rigging, and heard a fluttering growl of eager talk. I seemed 
to recognize the ship, swollen and disproportioned as she 
looked to my disordered brain, shaping and reforming as if 
fashioned of a thundercloud, bulbous aloft as though a breeze 
blew, but ghastly pale and writhing from yardarm to yardarm, 
every perceptible shroud wriggling off into the darkness in a 
horrible likeness of huge eels of endless length. The gig 
entered the dark shadow of her, and the fabric of spars and 
canvas towered over me to the stars. 

" It's the ship's gig, and there's Mr. Morgan in her," some- 
one over my head said. 

The boat's bows hit the side ; the shock was slight — as 
trifling as the thrust of a boathook, yet it struck through my 
brain like the blow of a stone ; as the boat swung I struggled 
to stand, and fell forward insensible. 

brigstock's visit. 

On regaining consciousness I found myself in a bunk in a 
ship's cabin. I stared vacantly, understanding nothing. Then 
I took notice of things one by one ; it was night time ; the 
bracket lamp was alight, and swung sharply ; a woman sat 
near it with her back upon me holding up a book to her face. 
She had black hair in great plenty, was without a hat, and was 
dressed in black with a white apron. 

I lay with hopeless brains. Nothing was to be grasped for 
a long while. As a stone is to a sitting hen in a passion of 
incubation, so to my intelligence was this cabin with its figure 
of a woman reading by lamplight. 

On a sudden, but not for many minutes after I had opened 
my eyes, the woman turned and looked at me. It was Kate 
Darnley. The instant I saw her I smiled, knowing her, and 
then it was all mine in a flash of perception. 

I was in the captain's cabin in the Earl of Leicester^ and 
yonder was Kate Darnley nursing me. She got up and came 


close, holding by the side of the bunk. The ship was pitch- 
ing and rolling heavily. There was a frequent thunder 
of rushing surge and lightning-like glance of white waters 
upon the cabin window, and the air was full of grinding noises, 
and of the long-drawn vibrant humming you hear under deck 
when a gale is sweeping betwixt reeling masts. 

I looked up into Kate's dark eyes, and tried to speak, but 
could only make mouths at her. She put her hand upon my 
forehead, and still holding the side of the bunk she sank to 
the full length of her arm, and put her face close to mine. I 
contrived, perhaps by speech, perhaps by gesture — a deuce of 
a dreamy time was that ! — to make her understand I was 
hungry and thirsty. She left me, but soon returned with a 
pannikin of spirits and water, and a sandwich of biscuits and 
tinned meat. She managed her footing finely, swaying with- 
out stagger or run upon the hard, quick heave of the deck, as 
a bubble poises to the perpendicular, make you what angles 
you will with the pipe that blows it. 

I tried to sit up, but could not ; she got behind me and pil- 
lowed my back with her figure, contriving her hands as a table 
for me, and so I ate and drank, and in a very little while was 
marvelously better for the meal. She knelt by my side — a 
safe posture in such a sea as I now felt was running — and our 
talk ran thus : 

" What has happened ? " 

" Oh, much. You have been insensible ever since you were 
taken out of the boat." 

" The boat. The boat. I remember ! How long ago is it ? " 

" This is Friday night. You were rescued on Wednesday 
night about this hour." 

" What's the time ? " 

" Nearly three o'clock. It's blowing fearfully, and the ship 
is hove to. While I kneel I should give God thanks you are 
here. It's been stormy ever since that night, but not as now." 

** Brigstock — Brigstock," I muttered. " Thafs the name. 
He*s my murderer, though I live. For the second time, too, 
since I left England. Will the third time fail ? The devils ! 
To send me adrift in that thickness, and the schooner to 
windward, d'ye remember, and the villains trimming sail the 
moment I was adrift. For what ? For whatt " 

" Now be calm. You are safe, and they are sorry." 

I sobbed once or twice, like a fool, in my weakness, where- 
upon she stroked my hand. 

" Holy God ! " I exclaimed. " What a time they've made 
me go through." 


"It was your friend Alice Perry's doings," said she. " Not 
that there was malice in it ; it was ignorant, unreckoning 

**Of tnet'' 

" No, no ; of the Brigstock lot." 

" Oh, yes," said I, smiling and speaking faintly; " I remem- 

But what I meant I don't know, for at this point my head 
got confused, my eyes turned up, Kate's face faded out, I 
struggled to speak, to see her, to collect my mind, then sunk, 
as she afterward told me, with a long sigh, into a sleep deep 
and dreamless as the slumber of the grave. 

There was a brave dance of sunshine in the cabin when I 
awoke. The light off the rolling ocean outside streamed with 
piercing whiteness through the cabin porthole, with an occa- 
sional eclipse of the wet circle of glass by a roaring green sea. 
I seemed to find myself as well as ever I had been in my life 
until I endeavored to sit up, and was then sensible of a good 
deal of we$ikness and prostration. 

A mattress lay upon the cabin deck. Kate stood before the 
looking-glass winding her hair up on her head, and the molded 
ripenesses of her figure found twenty graceful expressions 
while she leaned from the slant of the plank, her hands above 
her. I called her name, and she looked round with a blush 
and a smile. After some commonplaces of greeting she told 
me it was nine o'clock, and that Brigstock had tapped twice 
on the door within the past hour to know if I was awake, 
and how I did. 

" But they have another navigator ? " 

" No. The man they stole knows nothing about it." 

" Nothing about it ! " 

" He called himself second mate when he came on board, 
and they took it for granted he knew navigation, so they 
locked him up, after nearly killing the poor wretch, just as they 
imprisoned you. But when they asked him to navigate the 
ship, he told them he was a sailmaker and had never learned 
to read or write." 

Seeing me laughing, she broke into a hearty laugh herself. 

" As sailmaker he was, of course, acting as second mate of 
the schooner," said I, breaking up my words with laughter. 
" What's become of him ? " 

*' He's in the forecastle, and is one of the crew. I have 
been nursing you since Wednesday night, and know little of 
what's going on in the ship." 

" Have they been sailing her ? " 


" Not since Wednesday morning." 

But I could see by the hurrying of light in the cabin that 
she was going through it now, and the telltale, which hung 
within easy eyeshot, gave her course as S. S. W. 

"I'll get you some breakfast," said Kate, taking up her hat 
from the writing table. 

" Who was that woman that committed suicide ? " 

" A girl named Mary Lonney. Oh ! what a terrible night 
that was. She slept in one of the closed places, next to Miss . 
Cobbs. Three lay on one shelf. Miss Lonney was the 
middle one. The other two were covered with her blood, and 
their cries were dreadful, and so were their looks when the 
lantern was lighted and we saw them in their nightdresses." 

" What did the girl kill herself for? " 

" They say she was mad. There are several stories. One 
is that she was engaged to be married. The man not only 
left her, but robbed her, and she determined to emigrate. 
She was a pensive, sad-faced girl, with the most wistful eyes 
I ever saw." 

She shuddered, ^ook a shawl from the mattress, and left the 
cabin. There was a promptness of manner, a decision of 
speech in her, that wonderfully pleased me. It gave a fine, 
spirited coloring to one's thoughts of her. She was a sort of 
girl, I thought, to encounter life with a firm brow and a con- 
quering patience of resolution, and I was grateful to her for 
nursing me, and for the light of the thankful heart in her face 
when she found me conscious. 

I lay quiet, watching the play of the foam-white dazzle in 
the cabin, thinking over the horrible days and nights I had 
passed in the ship's gig, and reflecting very earnestly in the 
direction of the future — hdw I was to bear myself with Brig- 
stock and the crew, what manner I should put on if they 
offered me command again, and so on. When Kate returned 
she was followed by Gouger with some breakfast for her and 
me. I looked the young brute sternly in the face, but other- 
wise made no sign. The fellow viewed me askew, shyly and 
uneasily, and went out in a skulking manner after putting 
down the breakfast tray. I told Kate that that dog had never 
once spoken to me all the time I was locked up, in a torment 
of suspense, not being able to imagine the charge against me 
nor what the crew designed. 

" I it was," said she, " more than Alice Perry, who cleared 
you, though at a cost which I'm afraid won't please you." 

^ I don't understand." 

"Why," she answered, " though I heard that the men had 


imprisoned you, I could not get to learn why. Miss Cobbs 
refused to explain. The rumor went that they had confined 
you because of your insisting upon training a crew of women 
to work the ship. I wondered at that, and told Brigstock 
I thought it hard you should be locked up merely for amusing 
a section of the girls. He answered me so short I determined 
to say no more to him, never guessing, however, what was to 
happen to you. We were at breakfast when the hatch was 
covered up. Miss Cobbs had previously lighted the lanterns. 
We were again imprisoned, and some of the women were 
horribly frightened. It was shocking to be locked up in 
a ship that was without a navigator, in the power of a set of 
men who might at any moment throw off the mask and prove 
themselves villains." 

She paused to hand me some tea, then resumed : 

" We were kept below till we were nearly suffocated. It 
was pouring with rain when the hatch was opened. I was the 
first to run up, feeling secretly convinced that while we had 
been locked up in the 'tween decks the men had been doing 
something to you. I saw Brigstock standing in the cuddy 
door. He looked as if he had been fighting. I asked him 
what he had done with you. He pointed with his thumb over 
his shoulder, and said, * He's been sent away.* * What for ? ' 
I said, terribly frightened. I imagined they had killed you. 
He looked at me moodily, as if debating whether he should 
answer, then broke into speech with a roaring voice of rage, 
and told me the crew had sent you away because you'd plotted 
to confine them in the fo'c's'le and sail the ship to a near port, 
where you'd hand them over to the police as pirates." 

" As I thought," said I. 

" He told me I might save my tears, as you weren't dead 
yet, though had it been any other crew than this ship's your 
body would be swinging at the yardarm. I went into the 
'tween decks to think. I then called to Alice Perry, and 
brought her and others of the girls you taught around me, and 
told them how Brigstock had sent you away, though in what 
manner I did not know, and for what. Then Alice Perry, 
with her eyes on fire, said it was her doing, though she had 
never meant it should hurt you. Some of the girls had talked 
about the plot they'd hatched and gone to you in the cuddy to 
talk over ; they had been overheard, or perhaps couldn't keep 
the secret. Certain of the women who have taken up with 
the seaman carried what they'd picked up to the crew. When 
Alice Perry heard this she went forward and made matters 
worse by taunting the crew, declaring that they were in your 


power, and would be in the hands of the police before long, 
and, vile-tempered fool as she is, persuaded them the plot 
that had come to their ears w3ls yours. This she owned while 
we sat talking about it in the 'tween decks. After hearing 
her I made her go with me to Brigstock, to whom I explained 
your motive for training a company of girls to maneuver the 
ship. He listened like a man who is willing that justice should 
be done. I told him that the plot had been the girls', not 
yours. Alice Perry declared that that was so, named a num- 
ber of the women who had talked it over, and said in her fiery, 
affronting way that she and the others had come to you, and 
you had refused to hear them on the subject. So you see," 
said she, smiling, •* I had to give them the truth to prove your 


" It was then too late. What had he to say upon my motive 
for training the girls ? " 

" Nothing. He asked a few questions, but for the most 
part listened in silence. Upset as I was, I could not help being 
amused at his airs of importance and efforts to look like a 
judge. I believe he talked to the crew afterward, for they 
came about us and asked many questions, collecting evidence, 
as it were, all which went to establish your innocence ; the 
women who called upon you in the cabin all agreed in their 
story. But I think what helped them best to see the truth was 
the discovery that the man they'd stolen was perfectly illiterate 
and no navigator." 

"Did you hear what had become of me ? " 

" Yes ; the men told their * pardners,* as Miss Cobbs calls 
them, you'd been sent in a boat to the schooner they'd stolen 
the man from. I believed you were safe, little imagining the 

Just at this minute the door was rapped, and^ Brigstock 
called to know if he could come in. On entering he shut the 
door, then backed against it, pulling off his cap and twisting it 
with gestures of agitation, while he eyed me with the stupid 
steadfast stare of a sheep at a dog, slowly moving his jaw as 
though he ground tobacco. 

I should have been deeply stirred by the sight of the fellow 
had I not had plenty of time to consider how I should bear 
myself when we met. I was now sitting up in my bunk ; they 
had removed my soaked clothes on taking me out of the boat, 
and dressed my lifeless figure in a flannel shirt and warm slop 
sea drawers and stockings used for sea boots, and over all was 
a blanket. I looked wild and grim, with disordered hair and 
beard of four days' growth. The sailor wore his hair as flow- 


ing as his trousers in those days ; mine hid my ears and curled 
upon my coat collar. 

" Captain Morgan," said Brigstock in a slow, deep, trem- 
bling voice, " I hope as jer now a-feeling of jer old self again, 

" Mr. Brigstock, you and your people have used me most 
damnably ill." 

" It never would have been done had we knowed the truth." 

" The truth ! Why, man, you wouldn't take the trouble to 
find it out. Is the sentencing of a man before he's heard to 
be a part of your constitution — the sentencing of him to deaths 
mark you ! for you know you sent me away to perish ! " 

His mouth worked as though he were overwhelmed with 
thought too big for utterance. He flung his cap down, and 
approaching my bunk with a stride, first looking slowly with 
something of a bewildered expression at Kate, and then fasten- 
ing his dark eyes upon me, he exclaimed, " We thought jer 
meant to clap the hatches on us men and navigate the vessel 
to where jer could give us into custody. They said it were 
your scheme. Why didn't jer tell us why you was a-putting 
them females through their facings for as sailors ? If for to 
navigate this ship after we'd left her, why didn't jer say so ? 
You so hacted, and we so misunderstood, that there was nothen 
but to make the two and two a plain four, and thankful I am 
and truly grateful likewise that jer death warn't the conse- 
quence of the conclusion we arrived at." 

"You called me villain ; you would not hear me ! " I cried, 
trembling and flashed with the temper his words excited. 

" The captain is still very weak and oughtn't to be worried," 
said Kate. 

" I've come to hask his forgiveness, miss. Capt'n, it was a 
mistake. We was goaded to it. That there Alice Perry made 
out we was in your power, and that you meant to bring us to 
punishment. We had trusted jer and done what was right, 
and I tell jer the news of that there scheme, which we took to 
be yourn, turned the blood in our veins into blazing oil, and I 
thank the Lord, I do, that it's as it be, so mad we all was. 
Three was for " 

He checked himself, and sunk his eyes, pulled a red hand- 
kerchief out of his pocket and mopped his brow. 

The man's voice assured me his agitation was unaffected ; 
so did the movements of his face. He advanced another stride 
and extended his hand. 

" Capt'n, I'm here on the part of the crew for to ask jer 
pardon. May I tell 'em it's granted ? " 


" Hang your fool's play ! " cried I passionately. " V/hat good 
would my forgiveness be to men who, on the evidence of any 
lying woman in the 'tween decks, would yardarm me to-morrow, 
would swing me now^ without giving me a chance to prove my 
innocence ? " 

** It never could happen again, sir," said he in a heavy, level, 
solemn voice. 


" You'll be in a fever if this goes on," said Kate. 

He began to address me ; I cut him short with the insolence 
and contempt of the quarter-deck in its references to the fore- 

" What is it you want ? You have a navigator. Now you 
know I'm an innocent man you don't ask for my blood, do 
you ? Therefore put me honestly aboard the first ship that 
comes along." 

" Then I must tell jer," said he, " that we aint got no 

" You plundered the schooner of one ; what have you done 
with him ? " 

** He called himself second mate, but he's no navigator. 
He's scarce got laming enough to write a cross for his mark. 
I thought he was a-lying, and put that there sextant into his 
hand, but I soon see he didn't know what it was." 

** What do you want ? " 

" Your services, sir." 

I lay back and shut my eyes. 

"Leave him," said Kate, "or he'll be too ill to serve 

He was scared by this hint, and softly went out. 

As the morning advanced I felt strong enough to rise. 
The clothes I wore when sent adrift were in the cabin ; I 
shaved and dressed myself, and felt perfectly well, only that I 
was a little weak in the knees. I opened the log book, and 
smiled to observe that no entries had been made since the date 
when my own hand had last written in it. 

Brigstock may have heard from Kate that I was getting 
up. He knocked on the cabin door just before I had finished 
dressing. He was accompanied by Isaac Coffin and Joe 
Harding. I folded my arms and leaned against the bunk. 
Harding knuckled his forehead and said in a low voice : 

" Capt'n I can only say as man to man, I'm glad it is as 
it is." 

" You'd have hanged me ! " I exclaimed. 

** Not Joe," said Brigstock gravely. 




" You told me just now that three of you would have — ^then 
checked yourself. Which of you would have done it ? " said 
I, turning my eye upon Coffin. 

Brigstock answered, *' Only consider what we was afeared 
jer meant to do." 

" Was that man one of the three ? " said I, pointing to Coffin. 

They were silent, but I found my answer in the hung face 
of the fellow, crumpled as it was, and almost expressionless 
with mustache. 

" Go forward," said I sternly. 

The man hung in the wind for an instant with a glance from 
Brigstock to the other, then left the cabin. 

" Capt'n," said Brigstock, " d'jer feel well enough now to 
talk things over ? " 

" Before you'll get a syllable from me in the way of busi- 
ness you'll beg my pardon for calling me villain.' 

" I do, sir ! I do, sir ! " he cried. 

" You too were infernally uncivil, Mr. Harding.' 

" Only consider what was a-running in our heads," he 
answered, with a sour look, and his thumb and fingers upon his 
chin, as though he were holding his beard to it. 

I began to bully them on this ; stormed at and even cursed 
them, strong with the sense of their renewed confidence in 
me, and defiant with the perception of their utter dependence. 
No Nova Scotia skipper, bulged and knobby with revolvers, 
and backed by a grenadier of a chief mate and an armory 
of belaying pins, ever hazed a loafing crew in stronger fore- 
castle rhetoric than I those two men for sending me adrift in 
thick weather, heedless as to whether I reached the schooner 
or not. When I thought enough had been said on this head 
I rounded upon Brigstock and asked him what he had come 
to tell me ? 

" We want jer to take charge of this ship, sir. It's draw- 
ing on for noon, and we should like jer to take an obser- 
vation, as we're anxious to know where we are." 

" You're for beginning things over and over again. All was 
well with us, but you're like a bad-tempered woman : you can't 
leave well alone. Are you still resolved to settle an island ? " 

" Why, yes ; of course we are, sir." 

" If I take charge who's to warrant me from being hinderM 
in carrying you to the South Seas ? " 

" Name your tarms," said Brigstock. 

" Do you believe in the Bible ? " 

" Certainly I do," he answered, with a solemn drop of his 

THE OATH. 221 

" And you ? " 

" As much as I know of it," answered Harding. 

'' Would an oath taken on that book be held binding by you 
and the crew?" 

" Why, then," exclaimed Brigstock after a pause, speaking 
deep with fervor, " I say it would'* 

" Very well," said I. " I'll draw up the oath, and the crew 
shall lay aft and take it — on your Bible, Mr. Brigstock. I 
suppose you have one ? " 

" I have, sir." 

*' When they've sworn the oath I'll prepare, in the form I 
prescribe, I'll take charge of the ship." 

Brigstock contorted his figure into a singular sea-bow. 
Harding was about to speak. '' No, let's hear the hoath first, 
Joe," said Brigstock, interrupting him, as though the surly 
fellow's thought had been written upon his face. 

" You tell me the man you kidnapped is of no use ? " said I. 

" Of no more use than a figurehead," answered Brigstock. 

" What's his name ? " 

" Thomas Bull, sir." 

" What are you going to do with him ? " 

" He's a-going along with us." 

" To settle ? " 

" Aye," exclaimed Harding. 

" Has he found a pardner ? " 

** He has, sir," answered Brigstock gravely. 

'' Now leave me/' said I, and turned to hide my face. 



By the height of the sun, as nearly as I could tell, it was 
about eleven o'clock. The wind blew fresh, the sea ran strong 
and in wide hollows, and the lift and fall of the ship was as 
regular as the sweep of a swing. The snow-white foam, 
choking the window in dazzling leaps, with alternations of the 
green eclipse, of the clear brine, told me we were sailing 
through it, and fast. It was hard to make out the sky in the 
wet blindness of the glass. 

I determined to get an observation, but to keep the reckon- 
ing to myself unless the men did what I required. While 
looking for a sheet of paper I cast my eye over the cabin, but 
could not observe that it had been occupied, or in any way 


meddled with, since the day I was sent adrift. I took a seat 
at the table, and after several experiments framed an oath 
that satisfied me. I smiled while I put the paper in my 
pocket. Not for a moment did I suppose that the fellows 
would regard any oath they kissed the book on as binding. 
But I was resolved to have the satisfaction of their humiliation, 
which I intended to render as complete as an audience can 
make such things ; nor was it quite impossible that the oath 
lying in thefr minds might spin for itself a sort of cocoon of 
conscience, but I had little hope in that way. 

When it was about half-past eleven I buttoned my coat, put 
on my cap, and took a sextant out of its case. I was pale and 
somewhat hollow about the eye, and may have betrayed other 
signs of having suffered. I found Gouger in the cuddy ; he 
made way for me with abject respect. 

" Go forward and stop there," said I, " until you're called 
aft along with the others." 

He hurried out with eager obedience, and I liked that 
response to my orders better than any oath he could have 

When I gained the deck I found a spacious, wonderful 
scene of brilliant morning, splendid everywhere with the hurl 
of rolling masses of foam into the sunlight that poured in 
flashing broadsides of light through clouds of enormous bulk 
and inconceivable majesty and beauty of tint and figure. In 
a glance I had the whole scene : half a gale of wind on the 
quarter, curling and roaring ridges, the horizon working rug- 
gedly against piles of vapor sinking over the bow, and terraces 
of vapor soaring over the stern ; the ship pitching, lurching, 
thundering onward, with dives which brought the foam wash- 
ing to the spritsail yard, under whole topsails and a main 
topgallant sail, and the mainsail with the weather clew up ; 
two hands at the wheel, and Brigstock at the break of the 
poop to windward, talking to a man who was strange to me, 
whom I at once set down as Thomas Bull. 

I walked slowly forward on somewhat shaky legs, for up 
on deck here in the headlong pouring of air I did not feel so 
strong as I had thought myself, and was at the rail overlook- 
ing the main deck before Brigstock and his companion observed 

A large number of women were on deck, about two-thirds 
of the whole ; they herded chiefly upon the quarter-deck 
abaft the mainmast, as though for the shelter of the cuddy- 
front. I had scarcely shown myself when a voice shrieked 
out : " There's the captain ! " 

THE OATH. 223 

Almost in a breath, as though moved by a single controlling 
power, every head rounded toward me in a movement of 
white faces ; the effect of that simultaneous action was ex- 
traordinary ; those who were walking came to a stand with 
startling abruptness, as though rooted ; and thetiy and all 
while you might count ten, there arose an amazing, universal, 
wild cry of greeting, shrieks and screams of welcome, and 
hand-clapping that was like the emptying of a sack of shingle 
or a lusty fire of crackers and squibs, together with a confused 
sawing of arms and fluttering oil :.hand kerchiefs. 

" Yer'll stop this time ! ** squealed a girl. 

" We aint going to let you go again," yelled another. 

" There stands the man as would have murdered him," 
screamed Alice Perry, pointing at Brigstock, and coming in an 
elbowing run to the foot of the poop ladder, " and the beast 
wants to lay it all on me ! " 

"You lie, you drab ! " bawled Brigstock. 

" How ill he looks ! " cried a woman just beneath me. 
" Why warn't I arsted to nurse him ? " 

" Captain, may I speak to you ? " cried Alice Perry, looking 
up with a passionate face, wild with blown hair and angry eyes. 

There was such a hubbub then that I declined to exert my 
voice, and answering the girl by significantly lifting my sex- 
tant, I raised my cap as a general salute, and walked slowly 
aft, hearing Alice Perry shriek, " Captain, don't let him tell 
lies of me ! " while Brigstock shouted, ** Keep down — keep 
down. Yer can't come up here. Keep down, I say ! " 

As before when I first took sights in this ship, so now was 
I watched with pathetic eagerness by the crowds of females 
who climbed on to the bulwarks, and, defying Brigstock, 
heaped themselves upon the poop ladder to observe me while 
I screwed the sun down to the jagged sea line. I was left in 
full possession of the weather quarter-deck. The man Bull 
had gone forward, and in company with other seamen stared 
aft from abreast of the galley, where some of the mess- 
women of the 'tween decks were talking together. I made 
noon, and eight bells were instantly struck by someone on the 

Brigstock came along to me while I was stepping to the 
companion, and respectfully touching his cap, said, " Capt'n, 
we take this here shooting of the sun all the same as saying 
that there's no longer any feeling 'twixtyou and us men touch- 
ing the past." 

" You may take it as you like," I answered, and without 
another word went below. 


I worked out the latitude with some curiosity, and found 
that I was wrong in my expectations by above a degree. 
Indeed the ship had made seventy miles of something in ex- 
cess of what I had supposed. When I was done with my 
figures I went into the cuddy, and then remembered that I 
had sent Gouger forward. I had forgotten I was to dine, and 
going to the cuddy door I shouted along the deck for Gouger. 
In a moment the fellow came running aft, and I ordered him 
to get me some dinner and put a bottle of beer upon the table. 
Ail the girls were not yet below, but many of them had left 
the deck ; some of the messtromen were at that moment com- 
ing along with kids of beef and pudding. 

I had scarcely given my orders to Gouger, whom I addressed 
in a strong brutal voice, scowling to advise him I was master 
again, and to have a care, when Alice Perry broke out of a 
group of women and was upon me before I could withdraw. 

" Capt'n," she cried, " let me have a word with yer. I'm 
your girl to the heels, and on my sacred word of honor if yer '11 
take me as one of your sailors again yer 'II never have cause 
to complain of me. Now keep off, do ! " she exclaimed, turn- 
ing upon some women who were gathering about us. '' Here 
have I been charged by that Cobbs and her pal Thomas with 
causing the crew to send the capt'n away in a boat and die. 
S'elp me, Judas, it's as blistered a lie as never was ! " she 
shrieked. *' But keep off, will yer, that I may 'ave a word 
along with 'im." 

" What do you want to say ? " I asked, taking her by the 
hand and bringing her a little way into the cuddy, though 
keeping her well in view of the quarter-deck. 

The truth is I looked upon this Alice Perry as the smartest 
girl sailor I was likely to find or make in that shipload of 
females, and I had a sneaking liking for her too, spite of her 
wild, bitter, saucy tongue, because I believed her warm at 
heart, and an honest girl, and I don't say I wasn't a little prej- 
udiced by her looks ; she was indeed coarse, but then she was 
handsome, of that sort of low vulgar beauty which makes a 
good figure on the stage when it's viewed afar, and lighted up 
and softened. 

'* Don't let that there Brigstock persuade you it was me as 
made him send yer away in a boat." 

" I don't want to go into the matter." 

" I'd have locked 'em all up as I told yer," she exclaimed, 
her eyes flashing with temper, and her cheeks red with it too, 
" for they're a measly lot, and a curse to us girls, who don't 
want nothen to do with 'em. I own I bounced 'em by saying 

THE OATH, 225 

you'd be glad if some of the women *ud report we'd locked 
'em up down in the hold. That there rag who's Emma Grubb's 
choosing — God deliver me from the likes of such a face ! with 
that mustache of his he looks like the remains of a man sit- 
ting be'ind a broom to hide his ugliness, and a-crumpling up 
his flesh to smother the parts he can't conceal — he cheeks me 
one morning — though in the doctor's time they was forbid to 
speak to us, and," said she, clenching her fist and breathing 
quickly, '^ I just looked at him as I'm looking at you, and I 
says, says I," and here she pitched her voice into an insulting, 
provoking drawl, " ' I'm sorry for you,* I says, * when the 
capt'n's handed you over to them as have the handling of such 
vermin.' That was all. So don*t let Brigstock tell no more 
lies of me to you," and she rolled up her fiery eyes as though 
she would pierce through the plank to the man who was stump- 
ing the deck above on the lookout. 

" We'll drop this matter," said I, " and talk of what's to the 
point. Before I was sent away you refused to be a sailor. 
Now will you sail under my flag again ? " 

'^ What d'yer mean ? " said she, staring with passionate 

'' Will you be one of my sailors, and top the list of all hands ? 
— as you're bound to, for you're as smart as you're handsome, 
and as nimble as you're clever, and I can't do without you." 

" I'll do anything you ask," she repeated with her face on 
fire with pleasure. " Only don't think me a liar." 

" We'll start the class again when I'm done with the crew. 
I shall want to have you well in hand before we're up to the 

'' Dress me up as a man. I can climb. I lay I'd lick that 
little fat Jqpe in trotting up them ladders," said she, pointing 
through the window at the rigging. " He crawls like a 
November bluebottle up a winder. You dress me as a man, 
and see me take the shine out of him." 

I smiled, on which she made the cabin ring again with peals 
of shrill laughter. Brigstock, hearing the noise, leaned half 
his body into the skylight to look at us, but seeing me he 
immediately drew back. 

"Your dinner waits and so does mine. There '11 be plenty 
of time for talks like this if the crew don't send me adrift 

" Let them lay a finger on yer ! " she exclaimed, with a 
mirthless smile, or rather grin, which laid bare her strong, 
coarse white teeth ; it was a snarling hellish look, and she 
wanted nothing but a naked knife to complete her. 


I was about to go. 

" Can yer let me learn that whistle Miss Darnley wears ? " 
said she. 

** Get you to your dinner," I answered. 

When I had eaten some salt beef and drunk a bottle of beer 
and smoked a cigar I felt about equal to the business I had 
in hand. By this time most of the women were on deck 
again. While I sat at the table smoking Brigstock came to 
the cuddy door, but went away after looking at me a moment. 
I had nearly called to him to come and sit down, but the 
resolution I had formed that morning prevailed : to consider 
the crew as men who would have murdered me, to hold no 
intercourse whatever with them beyond giving orders, to keep 
strictly to my end of the ship and take no notice of their 
behavior, but always when the obligation to address them 
arose to let them understand I had not forgotten that they 
would have destroyed me. 

It was shortly after one when I left the table. As I ap- 
proached the cuddy door Brigstock came along the quarter, 

" Capt'n," said he, " will you give us the ship's position ? " 

" Not till the crew have taken the oath I've drawn up," I 

" They're willing and waiting," said he. 

" Then send them aft, and tell Miss Cobbs I want her." 

I stood well within the cuddy, not wishing to be accosted 
by the women, numbers of whom, in pairs and threes, mostly 
arm in arm, were walking about the main and quarter-decks, 
with rippling skirts and flying ribbons and fluttering^ fal-lals 
of dress, squeaking inane laughter when a sudden swift slant 
dispatched them interlaced in a run to leeward. The wind 
was merry with their voices, and the decks looked like the 
main street of a town on a market day. 

Miss Cobbs rose through the main hatch, and made an 
uncommonly respectable figure in her large bonnet and 
sausage curls and dark green up and down dress, too lean, 
too scraggy of fold for the wind to play with. She came with 
her customary wire-fine simper, and demure lift and fall of 
eyes, and when she entered the cuddy door she dropped me a 

" I'm truly *appy to see you back again and well, sir," she 
exclaimed, " after your terrible experiences, all brought about 
by the lies of certain base-tongued parties." 

" Will you be so good," said I, as coldly and steadily as the 
mixed emotions she filled me with permitted, " as to ask those 

THE OATH. 227 

ladies to draw themselves up on either hand of the deck to 
witness a ceremony of oath-taking that's about to happen ? " 

" At once, sir ? " 

<* Instantly." 

She went among the women, and I stepped on to the poop. 
I saw Kate Darnley in the lee gangway, and nodded and kissed 
my hand. How long, I wondered, was she going to worry 
me with her 'tween deck prejudices ? Why on earth wouldn't 
she live aft ? What would there be in such a thing to miscon- 
strue ? Wasn't and isn't it customary for young ladies to be 
consigned to the care of captains, and to cross the seas to the 
very ends of the earth with no other eye to look after them 
than the skipper's. She had nursed me devotedly while I lay 
unconscious. Her care had saved my life, for all I knew, and 
there she was, modestly withdrawn from my side now I was 
well, herding with the Alice Perrys and Kate Davises and the 
Selah Bungs and the rest of them, partners or no partners, 
cooks, housemaids, and the chocolate girl Emma Marks. 

But now Brigstock had sung out to the crew, and all hands 
of them — the dog Luddy being at the wheel — were laying aft, 
among them Thomas Bull, who, Luddy not counting, made 
with the others twelve stout seamen. 

This Bull was a big man, of a figure and head that answered 
to his name. He was thick-necked, and three or four chins 
rolled into his throat, like a ground swell into a cove. He 
was close shaved, or perhaps was without hair on his face, but 
plenty flowed in long ringlets from under his Scotch cap. He 
wore a sleeve waistcoat and heavy pilot-cloth breeches, very 
roomy in what Captain Marryatt calls the " west end." He 
was a bit of a dandy too, with a silver watch chain and a green 
cravat, over which drooped the unstarched collar of a sailor's 
shirt. No doubt he was thus dressed when stolen. I did not 
wonder that so much bulk should give its kidnappers trouble. 
If he had been half murdered, he had picked up again pretty 
well since that time. He looked fresh and hearty, and came 
along with a smile as he glanced at the girls. 

They, all agog with excitement, had gladly and eagerly 
" fallen in," according to Miss Cobbs* instructions, and now 
stood on either hand the deck, so massed they seemed twice 
as many. The sight of that heap of human life, with the 
twelve men coming along, *and the wide surface of foaming 
ocean outside dwindling the fabric of the ship into a tiny 
floating toy, put something of tragic significance on the instant 
into the thought of taking command. 

Brigstock carried a big Bible under his arm, I went down 


on the quarter-deck when the fellows were assembled, and 
going to the little capstan there, bade Brigstock hand me the 
book. It was bound in old leather, and showed many marks 
of hard wear, and had evidently gone plenty of long voyages. 
I took it in my hand to see that it was our Protestant Bible, 
and finding it all right, but incredibly worn and thumb-marked 
inside, I put it down upon the capstan, and pulled the paper 
upon which I had written the oath out of my pocket. 

Before reading aloud I looked the men over one by one as 
they stood in a huddle of twelve mariners right abreast to 
windward, that is, to starboard of the capstan, backed on that 
side by a mass of about forty women, all straining their eyes, 
all silent, all wondering what was going to happen, looking as 
though they were to see a man hanged. 

Though young, I was not wanting in self-control ; I could 
put on any face that might suit my mood or design, and having 
been thrown with seamen all my life, I was very easy in their 
presence, easier than in any other company. I gazed sternly 
at the men one after another, and they returned my stare, with 
here and there perhaps a little gleam of insolence in some 
deep-set eye, but on the whole their bearing was reluctant, 
significant of misgiving and uncertainty, as if they were called 
up to be rated and then punished. 

Incredible this may seem, but here let me say that it is impos- 
sible for any landsman to understand what I may call the magic 
of the quarter-deck influence upon the forecastle. It is pro- 
fessional habit ; it is an instinct of the blood ; it is the effect 
of a recognition for centuries of a despotism necessary and 
absolute. However these men might have used me before, 
now that I was again on board their ship, on the quarter-deck, 
viewing them as captain by their own election, the influence 
of my position was upon them ; I beheld it in every face, in 
every posture, and felt it also by that interpretation of sym- 
pathy which is often your only satisfying revelation. 

" You want me," said I after a considerable silence, which 
had not been broken by so much as a whisper, though there 
must have stood a full hundred souls of us upon the main 
and quarter-decks of the ship, '^ to resume command here ? Is 
that so ? " 

A general murmur arose among the men ; it was to the effect 
that it was so. 

" Do you believe I'm to be trusted ?" 

" We're all agreed on that point," broke in Brigstock ; 
" what I said to you in private I repeat to you in public : 
we're all sorry we misonderstood yer, and webegyer pardon." 

THE OATH. 229 

He made a movement with his hands as though he would 
collect the attention of the mob of women on both sides the 
deck to his words. 

" So you ought to it ! " cried a woman shrilly. 

" Silence, ladies, if you please," sung out Miss Cobbs from 

" That's all right," I said, addressing Brigstock. " You're 
willing to trust me now, but I'm by no means willing to trust 
you and your mates." 

'* Give it 'em ! " called out a woman, and some hand-claps 

Then turning upon the men, I let fly at them, abandoning 
myself to my temper, and heedless of what I said, convinced 
that since justice was on my side the livelier my speech the 
more convincing the impression. I was frequently interrupted 
by the applause of the women. So intemperate, so headlong 
was my address that I have no clear recollection of what I 
said. Once or twice I caught a growl of protest, but I looked 
the man down, and stormed him into half a score of uneasy 
attitudes in as many moments. I called them murderers. 

" No true seamen," I shouted, " would have treated their 
captain as you treated me. No mangy mongrel, found starv- 
ing in a fore peak, would have been served by sailors as you 
served me. You sent me adrift — a single man in a heavy 
boat, without food or water, in thick blowing weather " — and 
I went over the ground, raving the whole story at them, with 
frequent shakes of my fist, and again and again did the women 
encourage me, and urge me on by all sorts of cries and 
clapping of their hands. 

By the time I was done they were as sullen and scowling as 
condemned men, all save the burly fellow Thomas Bull, who 
viewed me steadfastly with a countenance of cheerful admira- 
tion. However, I cared nothing for their looks ; though I 
had cooled down by this time, I cried out savagely : '' I'll not 
take command of a ship's company I can't trust. Oh, yes, 
you're willing, I dare say, I should take command now, and in 
the middle watch you'll be routing me up to send me adrift 
again on some brutal excuse you'll manufacture out of the 
first * 'tween decks * lie that's carried forward." 

" No, sir," groaned Brigstock; " I told jer not! " 

" You must take this oath," cried I, flourishing the paper. 
" Are you willing to swear ? " 

" What d'yer want us to swear about ?" said Prentice. 

" You, you ! Why, man,^<7«'// have to take the oath pecul- 
iarly," I yelled. " Damn you, you're the worst of the lot ! " 


" Give it 'em, give it 'em ! " cried a woman, in a voice edged 
to a shriek with enjoyment and delight. 

'^ Read out what you want us to swear," said Coffin sul- 

'< Listen now," I exclaimed, and opening the paper I read as 
follows : 

'* I [and here comes in the name of the man], in considera- 
tion of Captain Morgan faithfully navigating this ship to an 
island in the South Seas, swear that I will dutifully obey all 
his orders, never judge of his meaning by any stories which 
may be carried into the forecastle, never hinder him in disci- 
plining the ladies, or carrying out all other such schemes as he 
may consider good for the common safety ; and I further 
swear to peacefully hand over the ship and all such emigrants 
as desire to remain in her to him, the said Captain Morgan, 
on our arrival at the island we decide to settle. So help me 

In profoundest silence by all, men and women, was I lis- 
tened to, not a whisper breaking in. I read loudly, clearly, 
and slowly, that my voice might be heard above the roar of 
the white brine on either hand, and the low thunder in the 
hollows above, and the wild whistling and hooting of the 
wind, splitting on shroud and brace. 

I looked at Brigstock. All the sailors* eyes were upon him, 
most of the women's eyes upon me. He chewed while he felt 
the shape of his chin, then said, '^ It's a reasonable hoath and 
well wrote." 

'^ All must take it," said I ; ''no use administering it to a 

Brigstock turned upon the men and asked them, one after 
another, if they would take the oath they had heard me read, 
and every man, one after another, said he would. Then Brig- 
stock came to the capstan and took up the Bible, with his eyes 
fastened upon my face. His manner was exceedingly solemn, 
perfectly calculated to give all that weight to the ceremony I 
wanted for it, and to impress the men with a sense of what 
they were about. I read aloud and he followed, intoning the 
words nasally in a deep relishing voice, and when I made him 
say, " So help me God," he pronounced the ejaculation with 
tremulous fervor, kissing the book slowly and devoutly, bowed 
and bare-headed, so that I could never imagine an oath sworn 
with more decency and gravity. 

How, thought I, as he stepped aside, could such a man as 
this have had the heart to treat me as he did ? 

One by one the men stepped up ; Brigstock's example 

THE OATH, 231 

worked wholesomely. The oath was recited with reverence, 
and the Bible kissed with proper devotion in every case. It 
was a long business, yet the women stood watching through, 
out with deep, patient excitement, perfectly silent, as if 
enthralled by some miracle of stage performance; and though 
there was no dearth of humor in this affair, neither did it lack 
pathos, as I felt when I glanced at the girls, and thought how 
the safety of the ship and their very lives were concerned in 
this strange uncommon proceeding. When the eleventh man 
had sworn I said to Brigstock, " Is Mr. Bull of you ? " 

" He is," said Brigstock, at which someone among the 
women on the right laughed, the only interruption that had 
happened for a long time. 

** Then you've joined this ship's company ? " said I to 

" It's true, sir," he replied in a strong voice, with a vigorous, 
cheerful smile. 

" Am I to understand that you've arranged to settle an 
island with the rest of the hands ? " 

" That's it," he answered. 

** He's got a pardner," said Brigstock. 

^'Soosie Murch," exclaimed Bull, looking across to the 
women on the port side. 

"This is her," cried a girl in a voice of disgust, and 
several women forced a tall, stout, strapping young woman 
with red hair and red cheeks out of the ranks. This was 
attended by much hissing and some laughter. The girl, 
purple with temper and confusion, fell back heavily into the 
crowd and got against the bulwarks out of sight. 

I ordered Bull to approach, and recited the oath, which he 
took. He mouthed the words with a careless air, and smiled 
incessantly, but I believe his grin was born with him. I then 
sent one of the men to relieve Luddy at the wheel. Much 
talk prefaced this man's taking the oath. He wanted to know 
what was the good of swearing. He was a respectable man. 
If he said yes he meant yes. If he said no he meant no. 
He'd never taken a hoath afore, and blowed if he saw his 
way to begin now. 

A difficulty was threatened by his partner, Jess Honeyball, 
singing out from the tail of the crowd near the cuddy front : 
" Don't you take no hoaths, Tommy, unless you're sure what's 

On this the other Honeyball, Nan, her sister, the cook's 
partner, cried out, " Look's swore. Why shouldn't Tommy ?" 

Luke Warabold was the name of the cook. 


Several women began to talk. Brigstock*s voice was loud 
while he explained to Luddy that I refused to navigate 
the ship until the oath was taken by the crew. I thrust one 
hand in my pocket, holding the paper with the other, and 
stood in such a posture as might best suggest contemptuous 
indifference to the issue, exchanging looks with Kate, who 
stood apart in the gangway, her face pale with interest, sur- 
prise, and anxiety. 

At last after much talk, during which I uttered not a sylla- 
ble, Luddy came gloomily to the capstan and took the oath, 
pronouncing the words of it after me in a ** what's-thegood- 
of-it " sort of tone. However, he " so helped him," and kissed 
the book as the others had, which done, I handed Brigstock 
the Bible, and said to the crew, " You have proved murderously 
faithless to me once, but I'll give you another chance. While 
I'm able to trust you you'll be able to trust me. Keep the 
oath and do your duty." 

I then thanked the women for attending, and, pulling off 
my cap and making a low bow, first to port and then to 
starboard, I walked straight into the cuddy, a confused 
noise of feet and tongues closing upon me behind as the crowd 
broke up. 

A sailor's tombstone. 

Feeling exhausted, I entered the pantry for a dram of 
brandy, then sat at the table to rest. But I was not allowed 
to be long alone. After ten minutes Brigstock and Harding 
arrived, and the former asked me to give them the place of 
the ship at noon. This I did, and wanting to hear more of 
the man Bull, feeling equal to a short chat, though not to the 
like of such exertion as I was fresh from, I said : 

" Is Harding there " — and here I nodded at him contemptu- 
ously — " acting as second mate still ? " 

" Why, yes," answered Brigstock, turning to look at 

" I had thought you'd give Bull the post. He was used 
to the duties of it in that schooner you took from him." 

" He's welcome to the bruised job for me," said Harding. 

" Now^ matey ! " said Brigstock in a tone of reproof. 

"Oh, for my part," said I significantly, " I'm for leaving 
well alone. You can look after the ship as well as another, 


Mr. Harding, and the men of your watch know and are 
used to you. Is Bull going to make a settler to please you ? " 

•* He took to the scheme like a babe to a pap-spoon when I 
talked to him," answered Brigstock. *' Well want tradesmen, 
and he*s handy at his needle ; knows how to build a house 
too, so he says ; his father was a mason. He haint exactly 
what you might call heducated, but he can read, and his 
mind's stored with useful knowledge. He's knocked about 
among the South Sea hislands, and's told us of a place we're 
willing you shall try for, sir. He was aboard a colonial 
schooner a-cruising on some surveying job, and they brought 
up in a bay where he was one of a party of armed men as went 
ashore along with the lieutenant or mate. There was ne'er a 
sail to be seen, but the hisland was a perfect Heden, one of 
them spots," he continued, with a grave, slow smile, " where 
yer'd hexpect to find a Heve, all gold with hair down to her 
ankles, a picking happles, with Hadam a-taking his ease look- 
ing on, and nothen in the shape of a serpent anywhere about 
if it warn't the sea snake." 

" Can he fix the situation ? " said I. 

'* He can name some islands a-lying on the same line of 
latitood," he answered. 

" Why, then," I exclaimed, feeling my face brisk with a 
sudden freshening of my spirits, " you've stolen your man 
for some purpose, and he may thank you yet for the 

" I believe he's a good man," said Brigstock, " and that, 
taking him all round, he'll answer as a father. He's already 
given me one or two first-class ideas as a contribution to my 
scheme of a constitootion. All I complain of is his choice of 
a pardner. I don't say Soosie Murch aint honest and the 
likes of that ; I've talked with her, and don't find no ballast 
of mind, no kentledge of principles, nothen to keep her from 
capsizing in some sudden gust of passion. You know what 
I mean ? She's wan of them feathery characters as tosses like 
a bubble on the froth of the passing hour," said he, bringing 
out his hour with a sounding h. ** But they may find each 
other out afore it's too late. There's more besides our pard- 
ners willing to settle." 

" I'm too tired to talk now," said I. " Send Bull to me 


Presently I felt too poorly, however, to see Bull, and bid- 
ding Gouger tell him I'd talk to him another time, I entered 
my cabin and lay down. The ship was in good hands so far 
as practical seamanship went ; I had no fears for her with 


Brigstock or Harding on the lookout. The long exposure in 
the open boat, all the physical and mental torments I had 
suffered while adrift, were still telling upon me. Then, again, 
there was the strain of having to talk to the men ; the obliga- 
tion of conversing collectedly on such matters as Bull and the 
island scheme with Brigstock and Harding after their treat- 
ment of me, was a torment in itself, violent enough to strain 
the spirits even though health had been at its highest. 

I fell asleep, and when I awoke found Kate at my side. 
The sun was setting ; I had slept heavily as a drugged man 
right through the afternoon. 

" Have I been ill ? " said I, wondering to see Kate. 
" What's the matter ? " 

" Brigstock heard you were lying down," said she, " and 
fancying you were unwell he asked me to sit with you." 

** I'm quite well," I answered, sitting up. And now I felt so, 
and indeed was, for that afternoon's sleep had kedged me to 
my old mooring buoys once more. " But why must I fall ill 
to get you aft? Why won't you come and live in the cabin, 
and eat at the table with me ? " 

" No," she said decisively, with some color, 

" You promised to call me Charlie ? " 

" I may learn to do so before we part. I take after my 
father, who was slow in being familiar with people." 

" Where is it we're to part at, Kate ? " 

" Sydney," she answered, looking at me. 

" How do you know I may not apply for a footman's situa- 
tion in the family that takes you as governess ? " 

" You lurch too much in your walk to make a foot- 
man. You'd spill the soup and break things," said she, be- 
ginning to laughy and, getting up, she handed me a hair 

I took the hint and brushed my hair in the glass, while she 
stood at the door as though going. 

" Do you think we shall ever get to Sydney, Kate ? " 

" I do, Charlie," she answered, laughing at my face in the 

" And so do I. This ship is meant for me. Brigstock here 
knew that when he stole me. Fletcher of Bristol knew that 
when he tried to kill me. And the gig knew it when she 
scented her mother in the dark where she lay near the moon, 
and brought me back to be nursed by you. They don't yet 
imagine at Blathford we're together." 

" How should they ? They don't even know I've left 


Spying a lanyard round her neck, I put my hand upon it, 
and pulled the boatswain's whistle out of her breast. 

" Have you forgotten the tunes I taught you ? " 

" No." 

" Will you teach them to Alice Perry ? " 

" Why to her ? " she asked. " I don't like that girl much." 

" Because she's my hope in the direction of making sailors 
of the women. You'll be seeing her in man's clothes some 
day, springing aloft like a monkey. Others must do that if 
I'm to carry this ship to safety without men, and it's my policy 
to kindle a flaming ambition in her. She wants to learn that 
whistle, Kate, and wear it, and let her," said I, laughing. 
"You'll teach her." 

" I don't think I will. I'd rather not," and as she said this 
she pulled off her hat, whipped the lanyard over her head, and 
held it out to me. 

" Do you want to break my heart ? " said I. " You must 
wear this " — and I took the lanyard and passed the bight of it 
over her hair — ^" and teach Alice Perry the music you remem- 
ber ; then let her wear the pipe, and be called bo'sun. What's 
it to you ? Aren't you my chief mate, or, as the rating's 
termed, only mate ? " 

This brought a great deal of red into her face, and her eyes 
showed her heart, though her mouth was a little hard. The 
porthole was scarlet with sunset, but the light was fast dim- 
ming with evening shadow, 

" Kate, you'll help me ? " 

" I'll do anything you want," she replied. 

" I may find you twenty different berths between this and 
Sydney ; don't growl like a vicious sailor when you're shifted." 

" Alice Perry's not an agreeable person to have anything to 
do with." 

" But she*ll make a good seaman and a splendid example 
for the others. So you'll teach her to pipe, Kate ? " 

" I'll try." 

" And when she can pipe you'll give her the whistle." 

"Very well. But where shall I teach her ? " 

" Bring her aft on the poop whenever you choose." 

She put on her hat, and I followed her to the cuddy door, 
vexed by what I considered the ridiculous fastidiousness that 
sundered us. 

This evening, going on deck in the second dog-watch, feel- 
ing very much refreshed, and, as I have said, well again, on 
passing through the companion into the starry gloom — it was 
some time after seven-^I heard the sound of men and women 


singing on the forecastle. Their blended voices swelled 
strong and sweet in the wind. I don't know what they sang, 
but the melody was wild and fine, after that hymnal kind 
which some few years since was the rage in this country. I 
stood listening, very well pleased with the singing. There 
might have been twenty-five or thirty females, besides eight or 
ten of the men ; so they were not all partners who saag. Had 
they been drilled for a month they could not have kept better 
time. The gloom of the night was on the face of the sea, and 
the stars were plentiful over our mastheads, with a few visible 
clouds, though now and again a wink of dumb lightning down 
to leeward threw up a terraced coast of vapor, low and sink- 
ing. The strong breeze of the morning was gone. It was 
now a royal wind, the ship under all plain sail, the yards 
braced a little forward on the starboard tack, but the darkling 
hollows of the clothes, whose yearning faces were pallid with 
starshine, stood hard and still like shells, and the swelling fore- 
castle chorus found an echo in them, to the height, indeed, of 
the dim main royal, as I fancied ; so that what with the singing 
and the delicate duplication of it aloft and the quick whis- 
tlings in the rigging when the ship came to windward, with a 
noise of dull thunder in the underrun of the sea, and what 
with the gloom and the arrow-straight wake of light astern 
and the dark immensity dfyondwhtre the flickering shimmer of 
the furrow vanished, the conceit was more impressive than 
anything of the sort I can recollect. 

Stepping aft, I observed a large figure at the wheel, and 
on drawing close to look at the compass I saw it was Bull. 

" So,'* said I, anxious to have a talk with this man, '* you are 
regularly on the ship's articles, I see." 

** It's all the same to a sailor where he is, sir," he answered, 
handling the wheel with that grace of certainty, that ease of 
precision, which is the delight of every skipper's eye, though 
not one sailor in the hundred has it. ** But I wish when Mr. 
Brigstock stole me he'd stolen my clothes too." 

" There are plenty of slops aboard." 

" Yes, sir." 

I then asked him the name of his schooner, where she was 
bound, and so on, and presently proceeded thus : 

" I suppose you've heard I was kidnapped as you were." 

"Oh, yes; they gave me the yarn straight enough. It's a 
plan as 'ud make Mr. Brigstock's fortune if he could get in 
with the right parties.' 

** What do you mean ? 

" Over-insure a ship and start Mr. Brigstock after her in a 



smart, weatherly schooner to steal her navigators out of her, 
as you and me was stole, sir. It 'd be safer than the casting 
away lay." 

I guessed by this that Brigstock had told him of the Hebe. 

" How old are you ? " 

" I don't know for sure ; not fur off five-and-twenty, I dare 

I could have sworn he'd never see five-and-thirty again. 

" You fancy Brigstock's scheme of a settlement ? " 

"Why, yes, when there's such a lot of nice gals to choose a 
wife from." 

" Have you a wife ashore ? " 

** Every sailor's bound to have a wife somewhere, sir," he 
replied, and I saw him by the lifting sheen of the binnacle 
lamp grinning with all his might. 

" You should prove useful to the young colony. Brigstock 
tells me you can build and stitch, and the deuce knows what 
else. Where's that island you've talked to them about ? " 

<* D'yer know Hercules Island ? " 

** No ; but if it's on the chart I'll soon hear of it." 

" Well, the island I mean is about eighty mile to the east'ard 
of Hercules Island." 

" North or South Pacific ? " 

" South." 

" A fine island ? " 

" Up to the hammer. One of them islands which, if rightly 
wrote about, would fill every South Seaman with stowaway 
boys : a beautiful mountain amidships, lovely shady forests, 
plenty of fruit trees, and fish big as salmon and sweet as 
trout." He smacked his powerful lips. " A lovely stream 
of water hissin* from the mountain, with a fresh water lake 
and lagoon big enough to berth more than the Thames docks 
'ud hold." 

" It's a fine island ? " 

" Aye. The men's got to find out what life's like in such a 
place. Talk o' sailoring ! Yer don't want no clothes, and 
that's all the roof a man needs," said he, pointing up. ** Yer've 
got nothen to do but drink cava and feast on yaller poi and 
cocoa sponge, you and your wife wropped up in tappa, and 
the little ones dandies in the green kilt o' the ti leaf." 

** You seem to know all about it," said I, laughing, while I 
thought to myself, What better man than this to harden the 
fellows forward there in their resolution ? " How long is it 
since you were off the island ? " 

" Five years, sir." 


" It may be peopled — taken possession of by this time." 

" That's to be seen, but I doubt it," he answered. " There's 
too many of the likes of that island a-calling for settlers down 
in them parts to suppose that it's been took and built upon 
since I was there." 

I left him and walked slowly toward the break of the poop. 
It was now quite dark, but the radiance of the lunar dawn was 
in the eastern sky. All this while they had been singing upon 
the forecastle, but just then a solitary female voice arose ; a 
harsher, coarser, more screaming voice I never heard. The 
'tween decks fiddle accompanied it. The ship grew as vile as 
a slum with that noise, particularly at moments when the 
horrible voice screeched through sounds of laughter and 
clapping. It was some comic song the woman sang, and I 
wondered if the fiddler who accompanied the vulgar, cat- 
yowled wash was the modest-looking slender young lady who 
had sat on the beams when they danced. 

Harding, at the head of the poop ladder, was talking to his 
partner, Sarah Salmon, who was halfway up the steps. 
Neither perceived me. The moon rose, and I stood near 
them watching her. She floated, perpendicularly barred with 
black lines of cloud, which put a wild fancy of William Blake's 
into my head : that she was like a monstrous tiger burning 
among the trees of a giant forest. 

Harding and his " pardner " stopped in their talk to view 
her, or to listen to another song that some clear, low, and 
rather sweet contralto was singing. Presently the partner 

" Why, yes, my dear," said he ; " of course it has. My 
opinion's the moon's got more influence than the sun, and 
is certainly more useful, as I recollect an Irish sailor once 
arguing, for it gives light at night when it's dark, whereas 
the sun shines in the day when there's plenty of light." 

The partner laughed and then spoke, and Joe Harding 
said : 

" Why, sartinly. I'll larn yer what the moon's influence is : 
it tarns fish and meat ; it blinds yer if yer sleep in its light, 
and so warps yer that you look like a flat-fish ; mad folks are 
always took worse at the full, which in Hafrica '11 kill newly 
littered young a-lying at the mother's side ; cut bamboos at 
dark o' moon and they last a dozen years ; cut 'em at full and 
they'll not sarve a twelvemonth. Why, it works in your very 
'air and nails, Sarah. Cut your 'air and nails 'twixt new and 
old moon and they'll grow as fast agin as when they're cut at 
other times." 

j4 sailoi^s tombstone, ^39 

Here he looked round and saw me, on which I walked 
away, laughing in my sleeve to think of the sour earnestness 
with which the old dog was entering upon his partner's edu- 
cation, and of the subjects he chose ; and I also wondered 
how Mrs. Harding, whom he had left at home, did. 

I went into the cuddy, where the lamp was shining brightly, 
and fetching a chart of the South Pacific, opened and pored 
upon it. Hercules Island was indicated distinctly enough, 
but eastward no land was charted within or at the distance 
named by Bull. I was not surprised. If the island had no 
name it would not be shown. Commodore Wilkes had done 
grand work in those waters, but the results achieved by his 
expedition were not to be found in any degree of fullness in 
the British charts of that age. 

However, I was glad to assume that such an island as Bull 
described was to be met with in 23° S. latitude and 125** 
W. longitude. It put a place upon the chart for me to steer 
for; it furnished a sharp and satisfying definition to the 
motive of this queer voyage ; above all, it was in the South 
Pacific, so that if found and approved, then, when the crew 
had gone ashore, the ship would be left within an easy month's 
sail of Sydney, New South Wales, in the bland and mild 
Pacific, in the finest climate in the world, under conditions of 
weather which might not require me to slacken a brace or 
start a sheet from one week's end to another. 

I was on deck at seven next morning, and walked the poop 
while the men washed down. All had been quiet during the 
night. I had slept soundly, had visited the deck twice only, 
and my spirits were a very dance of the heart as I looked 
about me this morning, admiring afresh the handsome little 
vessel I was in command of blowing over the blue sea under 
sails of milky softness. There was a ship on the quarter — a 
streak of bulwark rail on the horizon, and three spires — stand- 
ing north. 

The breeze was a quiet wind, but the chill of the night was 
still in it, spite of the warm splendor in the east. Everything 
looked on fire with that light. The sea blazed under it ; a 
lovely glory it was with its delicate pink and the azure of the 
sea sifting into the brightness ; our wet decks flashed in flames 
as the vessel lazily lifted with the long swell ; every shroud 
and spar was silver veined. 

The men worked quietly, with a will ; they hove the water 
along, scrubbed hard, and seldom spoke. Their behavior was 
the queerest part of all this experience to me, the most sur- 
prising, incredible passage of it. I heartily hoped Bull would 


not corrupt the fellows. He had been put, I think — I am not 
clear — in Harding's watch, and these men washing down were 
in Brigstock*s. A very few women were on deck ; most of 
the girls usually kept below tilt the planks had been scrubbed. 

Brigstock, who was on the main deck, seeing me on the 
poop came up and said he*d like to know if they might kill a 
pig that day. He added the people hadn't had a fresh mess 
since Dr. Rolt*s time. 

I answered that for my part they might kill all there was 
and gorge themselves from out the hen coop and from under 
the longboat. 

" I'm not here to interfere," said I, " short of stopping what 
I may consider bad for the general safety. I prefer to leave 
the crew to you, Mr. Brigstock, merely requiring obedience 
when the ship's work is to be done. A more orderly set of 
men I never sailed with ; I recognize your influence, and 
wonder at, and admire it." 

This I spoke with a sincerity he could not fail to observe. 
One of his slow smiles traveled up his long face, but he made 
no remark. 

<* What sort of a man is Bull ? " I asked. 

" He seems all right." 

*' How runs his talk, taking it all round ? " 

" Why, he's plenty to say for himself. Seen more'n most of 
us, more'n even me. His mind's got a bit of a list with strong 
language, but," said he, looking at me very gravely, " I never 
lose a chance to give him a 'and in restoring of his intellec- 
tuals, and he'll sit trim enough by and by — trim enough by 
and by," he repeated, sinking his voice to a murmur. 

" You allow no loose talk in your fo'c's'le ? " 

"No. We're all for putting a stop to it. My mates under- 
stand they're to be founders, fathers, and examples. There's 
no keeping of a young settlement together unless you take 
turn upon turn with morals, binding it tight with the lashing 
of principles." 

" Sort of human fagot in a glorified state," said I. 

" Ha ! " he answered, " that's about the himage. Glorified 
fagot. I'll stow that," and he smiled gravely while he mut- 
tered, " Sort of human fagot — glorified state." 

" It's fortunate that that Bull isn't loose," said I. " Sailors 
are not renowned for constancy, and here's a shipload of 
women, Mr. Brigstock." 

He stroked the air slowly and solemnly with his hand, ais 
though he was putting a man to sleep, while he said, " You 
needn't fear for that there Bull. It was two days afore he 


could make up his mind to choose a pardner. He says he 
never had no fancy for women himself. He don't seem to 
believe they're the same sort of people as men. I've argued 
seriously with him on that point, for to deny that women 
aren't got no souls is to be a Turk, which Bull aren't by all 
the way from Constantinople to Limehouse." 

At this moment the fellow at the wheel called to us. I 
looked, and he pointed to the lee bow. Brigstock crossed 
with me to the lee rail, and in a moment we saw a small black 
object in the dazzle of the waters about a mile ahead. Seeing 
Gouger on the quarter-deck, I told him to fetch me the tele- 
scope, and now, when I looked through the tubes, the black 
speck was resolved into a cross upon a platform, fitted to what 
resembled a couple of small casks. 

I was much struck by the appearance of the thing, and sup- 
posed it a beacon or rude ocean signal that had gone adrift 
or been lost by wreck. I called to the fellow at the wheel to 
shift his helm for it by a point or two, and we bore slowly 
down, the women beginning to come up and cluster on the 
bulwark rails at the news that there was something unusual in 
sight, and half a dozen seamen looking at it on the forecastle 

I sooji made out that it was some kind of roughly put to- 
gether memorial ; the telescope was powerful, and I distin- 
guished, without deciphering, an inscription upon the horizontal 
arms or beam of the cross. I told Brigstock there was writing 
upon the thing, and ordered him to call hands aft to the 
main topsail brace, as I intended to heave to. Within a quar- 
ter of an hour the yard was backed, and we had come to a 
halt, lightly rolling, with the cross within a pistol shot of the 
lee bow, but though I kept the telescope bearing upon it, the 
thing so wobbled and waved, twisted and danced in the hurry 
of ripples which wrinkled the rounds of the swell, that I could 
make nothing of the chiseled inscription. 

The cross was formed of two white planks ; it was secured 
to a platform of two similar planks, lashed, nailed, or other- 
wise fastened to a brace of casks, which were probably 
weighted under water, or such rolling bottoms must speedily 
have capsized that whole little show of topweight. 

'* Can jer make out what's wrote upon it ? " asked Brigstock 
in a solemn voice, and looking at the thing with a long earnest 

" No. There's but one way of finding out. Who of the 
crew can read and write ? 

'^ Lucky 's wan as can.' 



By " Lucky " he meant Luke Wambold, the ship's cook. 

" He'll do, then. Get that port quarter boat cleared, and 
send Wambold along with a couple of hands to read the in- 

While the boat was being got ready I fetched a pencil and 
a sheet of paper, and gave them to Wambold, who was busy 
at the boat, desiring him to copy exactly the inscription upon 
the cross. Two seamen got into the boat ; as Wambold 
entered, all being ready to lower away, a woman on the main 
deck shrieked out, and an instant after Nan Honeyball, 
without any cover on her head, her hair blowing loose as she 
ran, and her face as red as blood, came rushing up the poop 
ladder and along the deck, shrieking out : 

" What are you going to do to him ? You let *im be ! He's 
my man. What's he done that you're sending him away ? " 
And then she yelled, '' Lucky, jump out, or else take me 
along too." 

At this there was a great burst of laughter. Brigstock in 
his deep voice exclaimed, '' It's all right. Miss Nan. It's all 
right, I tell jer. There aint going to be no separation." 

" Lucky, come out ! Don't trust 'em," screamed Nan. 

" There's nothen to be afraid of, my heart," bawled Wam- 
bold. "Just a-going to that heffigy over there to tell the 
capt'n what's wrote upon it." 

" Lower away ! " I cried. 

The boat sank, and Wambold vanished ; Nan ^ fled to the 
rail to watch the descent of her sweetheart to the water. 

" Here I stop till yer come back," she shrieked. 

" If that aint devotion ray eyes aint mates," murmured 
Brigstock, standing close beside me. " That's what I like to 
see. That's the kind of sperrit I want to encourage among 
my people. Them's the sort of females," said he, surveying 
with great admiration Nan's square, lumpish face as she over- 
hung the rail, " who, whether jer call 'em mothers or whether 
jer call 'em wives, are a-going to make a first-class job of my 

" A fagot," said I — " I mean a stick of your fagot." 

" Ah," he exclaimed, with a sigh of deep relish. " Jer may 
talk of jer ladies, and jer may talk of jer gents. I've got 
nothen to say agin refinement, which is the houtcome of civili- 
zation, and meanSj perhaps, over-behaving of yourself, for, jer 
see, there's more bowing and taffy a-going to it, false grins and 
greased-boot politeness, than society stands for to need ; but 
for the establishment of a constitootion, where civilization's 
got to begin, and where the hissue may be dukes and earls— 


though Gord knows when; I grant that — give me your Nans 
and your Hannahs/' and he sent a slow look forward in search 
of Miss Cobbs. 

I stepped away to watch the cross and see what the men did. 
The boat drew close. Wambold stood up, pencil and paper in 
hand ; he and the cross leaped together on the jump of the 
sea. I saw him peering with many jerking motions of his 
head. He then looked round at the ship, peered again at the 
inscription, looked round again, peered yet afresh, and seemed 
to me to manifest by his postures the utmost astonishment 
and incredulity. 

I sprang on to the rail in a fit of impatience and excite* 

" Boat ahoy ! " I roared; " bear a hand with that copying 
job, d'ye hear?" 

But it occupied the fellow twenty minutes in writing what he 
ready which looked as though Brigstock had overrated his 
parts. The boat then returned, and Wambold came over the 
side. Nan swept up to him with outstretched arms and 
hugged him to her heart. 

" None o' that — none o* that," shouted Brigstock in tones 
of disgust and dismay, while peal upon peal of laughter came 
from the crowds of women along the bulwarks. "Miss 
Honeyball, away jer go." 

** What's the inscription ? " said I, and I took the paper 
from Wambold. 

The writing was a vile faint scrawl. I was some time in 
making it out, then read aloud : 

** To the memory of John Wambold. Aged fourteen. Carved by his 
sorrowful father, boatswain, ship Abydos, Commended to God, the Sailor's 

" A sailor's grave," I exclaimed, and made a step to look 
again at that strange, pathetic, lonesome ocean memorial. 

" Wambold ! " exclaimed Brigstock. 

I glanced round, and then at the paper, and said, " Yes — 
Wambold's the name." 

" It was my brother," said the cook. 

" What jer mean. Lucky ? " exclaimed Brigstock, while the 
seamen, nearly all hands of them, who had come aft to hoist 
the boat, drew close to listen, the women along the bulwarks 
and deck all staring aft in a long row of white faces and 
bright eyes and fluttering ribbons and feathers. 

** John Wambold was my brother," said Wambold in a 
gloomy voice, and a stupid, amazed look. 


** And the boatswain who sent that thing adrift is your 
father ? " said I. 
" He is," answered Wambold. 
It was the most extraordinary coincidence I ever heard of. 



The boat was hoisted, the topsail yard swung, way got upon 
the ship, and presently the rude floating cross, with its sorrow- 
ful inscription, was slowly sliding past abeam within biscuit 
toss. Wambold got into the main rigging, and leaning back 
against the ratlines watched his brother's memorial, his head 
bowed on his folded arms. It needed but his figure thus posed, 
putting all the passion of rude human grief into that rocking 
cross, to perfect the picture. 

There have been times when the loneliness of the ocean, in 
the blackness of some hushed night in a middle watch, has 
oppressed my spirits so heavily that I have felt it as a sorrow ; 
but never was the loneliness of the deep made so vast, sensi- 
ble, overwhelming a presence of before to my heart as now by 
the spectacle of that cross sliding into our wake. The whole 
sea, laughing and splendid under the sun, was changed into a 
mighty graveyard by it. Hu ndreds of miles, perhaps, separated 
the body from the floating tombstone which the old boatswain 
had launched, but somehow M^/ did not affect the fancy of the 
dead lad just underneath his father's cross, as he would lie if 
buried ashore. 

While the thing was still in sight I called Wambold out of 
the rigging. 

" It's a strange meeting, my man." 

" Oh, my God, yes, sir. Poor Johnny ! I heard father had 
taken him to sea last year." 

He strained his eyes at the object in our wake with a dull 
dumb look, like an animal in pain. 

" Haint we to get no breakfast this morning ? " cried the 
sharp voice of a woman on the quarter-deck. 

" Poor Johnny ! " exclaimed Wambold, still straining his 
eyes astern. " I allow father's *eart was pretty nigh broke when 
he launched that job." 

He then went down the poop ladder to the galley. 

After breakfast, when I was in my cabin, I heard through 
the open porthole the notes, as I thought, of a bird singing 

A T PRA VERS, . 245 

most deliciously. I listened with astonishment, and put my 
face to the window, expecting to catch sight of a vessel close 
aboard. Then hearing the whistle again — why, yes, thought 
.1, it's Kate piping up overhead. 

I finished what I had been about, and went on deck, and 
found Kate and Alice Perry seated side by side on the sky- 
light, Kate at that instant trilling piercingly like a canary, the 
other watching her with glowing eyes, and a wonderful grin 
of glaring teeth, Mr. Joe Harding sourly trudging the deck 
abreast of them, giving them a sideways sneering look as he 
passed, while on the countenance of the man at the wheel, who 
happened to be the gooseberry-eyed, ginger-haired, dandified 
chap, Dick Hull, there sat an expression quite in keeping with 
Joe's face. 

When Kate saw me she brightened with color. She held a 
handkerchief and polished the whistle when she took it from 
her mouth to hand it to Perry, who piped while I approached, 
but very badly ; I feared the girl had no ear. I shook hands 
with Kate and thanked her for obliging me, then with Perry 
and asked how she liked it. 

** Oh, it's just beautiful," she answered. " If Miss Darnley 
'11 kindly be patient, yer shan't want for music." 

I took the pipe and blew an " all hands " call, then others, 
smiling at Perry's stare of eager enjoyment and childish 
wonder. But wishing to look to the ship, I handed the pipe 
to Kate, who at once trilled till the echoes in the mizzen royal 
were like a lark singing in the sky. Not that Miss Darnley 
did as yet pipe that whistle with the ease of a salted boatswain, 
but she had picked up such art as she possessed with a wonder- 
fully clever quickness, and I guessed there was no boatswain 
afloat whom she would not be a match for in this accomplish- 
ment after a single voyage of piping. 

I stood at the rail at the break, looking about me at the 
crowds of females moving about the decks from abreast of the 
galley to the cuddy front, at the seamen of the watch for whom 
Brigstock had found jobs, at the noble show of marble-white 
canvas swelling in stirless breasts to the golden balls of the 
trucks. We were fortunate in our weather ; the sea was quiet, 
and light as the breeze was, the run of the line of crystals and 
prisms of froth over the side was six at the least. They had 
killed a pig when the women were at breakfast and I below ; 
they had managed the matter cleanly and quietly, and I 
spied the carcase with Wambold busy upon it hanging in the 
twilight of the forecastle break just forward of the wind- 


A girl after staring at me came up the poop ladder. She 
was Susannah Corbin. I bade her good -morning. 

" Good-morning to you, sir," she exclaimed. " Oi*d loike 
to ask, capt'n, if us gals of your company are to start agin at 
laming how to be sailors ? " 

" Certainly," said I, " and this very morning." 

" Why's Miss Perry practicing the whistle ? " 

" Because she wants to know how to play." 

" Capt'n, don't let that there girl be too much all there with 
you. Oi know what it is ; she wants to make out she's the 
fittest of us all, the best for the deck and the best for aloft. 
What Oi say is, don't give her all the chance ; let me'n the 
others have a bit. Give me a suit of man's clothes, and Oi'm 
game to lay out yon," said she, pointing to the main topsail 
yardarm, " soon as I've got 'em on." 

I told her I did not intend the girls should make any experi* 
ments aloft at present, but that I was delighted to hear her 
talk of the work with so much enthusiasm. I assured her I 
did not value Alice Perry in the smallest degree above her and 
the rest of my company, and that she was learning to play the 
pipe because she loved the glitter of the silver, and hankered 
after the thing as a decoration. This made Susannah laugh, 
and she went down the steps saying she and the others would 
be ready whenever I was. 

Probably Harding had overheard us, for as I was stepping 
aft again to join the two girls, who between them were making 
a grove of the poop with their concert of the whistle, he 
approached me with a civil salute of his thumb to his fore- 
head, and said with a struggling smile : 

" I beg pardon, capt'n, but your pardner blows uncommon 
well, considering." 

"She does," I answered shortly, but with entire indifference 
to his neglect of quarter-deck etiquette, seeing that he was but 
a forecastle hand, without knowledge of the ways of the world 
aft ; it was enough that Brigstock and he were respectful, 
suggesting, however covertly, by their bearing their sense of 
the wrong thay had done me. 

" D'yer reckon upon finding the girls good aloft ? " 

" Yes." 

" But God bless my *eart," said he, rolling up his eyes to 
the main topmast crosstrees, " what are they a-going to do 
with nothen but soft muscle in their arms, and hands like 
cheese, in a reefing job in a sudden hard gale on a black 
night ? " 

** When's that going to happen, Mr. Harding ? " 

A T PRA VERS, 247 

" Well, when it do, sir," said he, with a look round at the 
sea, as though it were coming. 

" Not on this side of the Horn for the women, anyhow," 
said I. " Afterward, when you're all gone ashore, we must 
pray for fine weather." 

" I aint going to say," said he, speaking with labor, as though 
full of deep thought, " that it isn't a good idea and feasible.* 
Of course, as it's been put, it mightn't answer, with us men 
out of the vessel, to ship a company of beach combers and take 
strange hands out of such ships as 'ud loan *em to yer, with a 
heap of gals, some of *em good-looking, still aboard. But I 
dunno that Fd like the risk myself — no mate to relieve me ; 
none hable to take a cast of the lead ; the whole biling on the 
back of one man, which, if l^ falls sick and dies — only think ! 
A cargo of females a-mucking about " 

I interrupted him : 

" Lord Nelson said that at sea much must be left to chance. 
With me, in a sudden black gale, and a 'tween decks full of 
women unfit to go aloft, its what can't stand must go. Would 
it be the first time nothing's been left but a boltrope ? " and I 
walked off singing aloud : 

** Come aU you young men and maidens that wishes for to sail, 
And I wiU let you hear of where you must a-roam ; 
We'll embark into a ship, which her taw'sle is let fall, 
And all into an ileyand where we never will go home." 

I allowed Kate half an hour to give her a lesson in, and 
began to be somewhat hopeful of Perry's ear when on a sud- 
den she piped " Belay ! " in as well managed a turn as ever I 
could have given to the brief blast. 

At three bells — half-past nine — the lesson being ended, I 
asked Kate to pipe my company on to the poop, and away she 
goes to the break of the deck, followed by Alice Perry — who 
looked hot and pleased as though fresh from a dance — and 
piped the familiar call of "All hands." I saw Bull just for- 
ward of the fore rigging bobbing his burly bulk in efforts to 
catch a clear view of her ; the others of the crew on deck 
seemed mightily tickled. Indeed, as she stood erect, with the 
silver pipe glittering like frost at the pout of her red lips, 
Kate was as fine a shape of woman as ever trod plank or soil. 
All the swimming, flowing grace of the rolling billow came 
into her figure out of the gentle motions of the ship. 

When the women heard the pipe they rushed up on the poop 
ladder in a scramble of hands, one pulling at another to pass. 
I saluted them as they arrived by pulling off my hat four or 


live times, and when they were all massed to windward I 
counted and made them forty-four. This number was fourteen 
or fifteen more than I needed, so I politely requested those 
who were not of my original company to betake themselves to 
the main deck again, promising they should be the first to serve 
as recruits if our number diminished. 


One of them was Emma Marks. She glared at me ; her 
eyes were like small sunflowers, as I have written. She said 
she was as good as any of the others, and didn't mean to go. 
As she was bound to prove as poor as a sailor as she was 
unsightly as a woman, I begged her not to be impertinent, and 
cautioned her that her very disobedience disqualified her as a 
mariner. She then grew insolent, told me she could see 
through my dirty tricks, that my teaching the girls was all 
tomfoolery, meant to mask an intention to improve Alice 
Perry's education and manners with a view to choosing her 
as a '^ pardner," and settling down on Brigstock's island, and 
she ended in putting out her tongue at me. 

I said with a smile, " What character are you taking out 
with you ? " 

Before she could answer, however. Perry was upon her, and 
a scratching and screaming farce, as it might be called, was 
scarcely averted by a number of the rejected females throwing 
themselves upon Emma, and tumbling her and themselves 
down on to the quarter-deck. 

Our lesson that morning lasted two hours. I went the 
rounds of the ship with the girls, carried them on to the fore- 
castle, and taught them to distinguish between the jibs and 
topmast staysail. I showed them the jib sheets and the jib 
halyards ; we let go, hauled down, hoisted afresh, to a song 
which I started, the girls tailing on and singing out like a 
peal of bells ; indeed they enjoyed the singing part of their 
discipline most of all, I think, for they sang often when there 
was no need, and out of time ; but it was wonderful how well 
they managed, and what intelligence they showed. 

I dismissed them at half-past eleven, telling them I must 
fetch my sextant to get an observation. Some begged me to 
teach them how to shoot the sun, but I laughed, and said I had 
no time for that. 

In the afternoon, between three and five, I gave seven of 
them — seven alone were qualified for that work — a lesson in 
the art of steering. It was very fine weather, the wind steady, 
the sea smooth, the breeze abeam, and the ship easy to control. 
Susannah Corbin promised to make the best hand among 
them at this work. She grasped the wheel as though to the 

A T PR A VERS. 249 

manner born, and the wake went away astern of her straight 
as a ruled line while she glanced with her arch 'longshore 
eyes from compass to canvas and back again. 

Next day was Sunday. The weather was still very fair, the 
sea flowing in lines of summer softness, the sky clad in places 
in links of pearly vapor, rose edged, compacted like chain 
armor ; gentle as the wind had been we had made good south- 
ing, and I was well satisfied. 

At breakfast Brigstock came out of his cabin. He only 
used it to sleep in ; it had been the second mate's — Jeremy 
Latto's — and that man's clothes and effects were still in it. 
Brigstock's time, when he was not turned in, was either spent 
in keeping a lookout or in talking to the crew and their part- 
ners about his constitution. 

He said to me this morning while we breakfasted : 

'* Capt'n, there's been no sarvice held aboard since Dr. 
Rolfs time." 

" What's to prevent prayers from being read if the people 
wish ? " said I. 

" Suppose we have church this morning, then ? " said he. 

I promptly assented, very well satisfied that his, and, as I 
took it, the crew's taste should lie in such a direction. 

"Will you read the sarvice, sir?" said he. 

I saw desire strong in his face, and answered : 

** I believe, Mr. Brigstock, you are better qualified than I." 

He looked as pleased as his long, serious, funereal counte- 
nance permitted, and made me a bow. I told him since he was 
to read the service I'd leave the ordering of it and the calling 
of the people together to him, and putting a cigar in my 
mouth, went to Kate, whom I had caught sight of on the 
quarter-deck, and carried her on to the poop for a walk. 

While we strolled the crew rigged up church on the quarter- 
deck by bringing up benches out of the 'tween decks, chairs 
from the cabin, and whatever else there was to sit upon ; they 
covered the capstan with a red ensign upon which they placed 
Brigstock's Bible, along with a volume of Common Prayer 
which they had borrowed from one of the women. Their 
partners helped them in a spirited way, as though this cere- 
mony was part of the island scheme, but most of the females 
gazed sulkily and at a distance in groups, and I told Kate 
their looks did not promise Brigstock's good work much 

By and by Alice Perry and another woman came on to 
the poop. The other woman wore her bonnet somewhat 
rakishly perched, and her gown had the swelled look of a fall- 


ing parachute. Her face was flat, her eyes pale blue and 
globular, and drooped at you with a sidelong fall of her head 
when she looked. Perry was in a piratical humor. There was 
lightning in her eye, and she came along with a stormy swing 
of figure. 

** KvcXyou going to preach, capt'n ? " said she. 

" No," I answered. 

" Who is, then ? " inquired the other woman. 

" Brigstock." 

** Cursed if I'm a-going to pray with him, then ! " cried 
Alice Perry, looking around to see if he was within hearing. 

'* Nor me along with Miss Cobbs, so there ! " exclaimed the 
other woman. 

•'•You needn't attend; let's have no disturbance," said I 

" I've a good mind," cried the other woman, " to throw 
some of them benches into the sea. Wttat right have they to 
take them out of our quarters ? They belong to us." 

" I'll snivel that Brigstock into proper praying afore I've 
done with him ! " exclaimed Perry. " Only think of such a 
beast stopping us from getting to Australia and keeping us in 
hourly fear of drowning ! " 

"Behave yourselves properly," said Kate warmly. " Don't 
allow such women as Kate Davis and Sarah Harvey to set you 
an example of decent conduct." 

Alice stared at her mutinously, with her hands upon her 
hips. I advised them to mind their eye lest the men should 
fall foul of them, in which case I'd be helpless. I was not 
going to permit them, I said, to act so as to imperil the safety 
of the rest of the females, and after rating them into what 
resembled an air of sulky submission, I dispatched them off 
the poop. 

At half-past ten a man started to ring the ship's bell ; the 
crew came aft dressed up in their best togs ; their partners 
also emerged from the main hatch arrayed in Sunday finery, 
in bonnets and hats, feathers and flowers, and ribbons and 
colors. Their appearance instantly painted a vision of the 
area gate, the Sunday evening out, and the young man wait- 
ing at the street corner. 

Brigstock was skewered to the neck in his borrowed 
buttoned-up coat, and was evidently trying to look his con- 
ception of a man who combined in himself the functions of 
the patriarch, the president, and the priest. His air was 
reverent, his walk slow. He came to the capstan and stood 
erect with his hand upon the Bible, gazing gravely around 

A T PR A VERS. 25 1 

bim. I was struck by his posture and appearance, and watched 
him with intefest, thinking that, though mean in degree as he 
was, yet, after all, opinion and action in such men actually 
mean civilization in the making. 

Miss Cobbs took a chair close beside the capstan. The line 
of her mouth was out of sight from the poop, but I could dis- 
tinguish and enjoy an expression of prim self-complacency. 
She wore a peculiar bonnet, very large ; it yawned round her 
face, shooting upward, shovel-shaped, and was like a little 
piece of market garden with its sham vegetable trimmings. I 
recollect no more of her attire than that bonnet. 

Kate went on to the quarter-deck and seated herself. The 
seamen sat on either hand of Brigstock, each man with his 
** pardner " at his side. Observing that the full complement 
was wanting, I sung out to pass the word for Miss Susannah 
Corbin ; she came out from a crowd in the waist, where there 
was much noisy talk and flourishing of hands, with Alice 
Perry and the woman in the rakishly perched bonnet in the 
thick of the girls. Susannah stepped on to the poop ; I 
asked if she would steer the ship while Brigstock read the 

" Whoy, yes," she answered, with her face lighting up ; 
" you couldn't ask me to do anything Oi'd loike better," and 
she ran aft laughing and in great spirits. 

The fellow at the wheel was Prentice. I said to him : " Go 
and sit with your pardner while Brigstock reads prayers. 
This young lady will stand your trick." 

The dark, high-colored, fisherman-looking seaman stared at 
her for a moment with a grin, next at roe, doubting I was in 
earnest, then just saying, " Aye, aye, sir," he gave the wheel to 
Susannah and went forward, rolling in his gait, and looking 
astern as if he believed he'd be called back before he was 

I saw that the course was right, and told Susannah to mind it, 
watching her a minute or two, by which time the bell had 
ceased to ring, and I heard the sound of Brigstock's melan- 
choly voice. But scarce had he opened with his nasal drawl, 
deep-toned with lung power got by bawling to mastheads, 
and answering from remote parts of ships, when a number of 
women began to sing a hymn. I went to the rail to see what 
was going to happen. The mass of the females, who had 
declined to pray with Cobbs and Brigstock, had divided them- 
selves into three mobs, one on either side the galley and one 
on the forecastle ; and no sooner had one started a hymn 
than the party on the starboard side of the deck swelled their 


throats in another hymn, while the forecastle mob shrieked a 
further discord into the clamor by raising their voices in a third 
quite dififerent hymn. 

Now this was the strangest thing to listen to you can imag- 
ine ! and it was a memorable and impressive picture to behold 
also. The ship was full of sunshine, color, and life, and so 
was the air with the noise of the several hymns, through which 
Brigstock's deep melancholy voice threaded its way as 
patiently and doggedly as an ocean current a turbulent sea. 
I considered it vile behavior in the women thus to disturb the 
worshipers, and dangerous also, but there was no help for it. 
I could but look on bare-headed — keeping the poop that I 
might watch the ship. 

The Brigstock party listened very tranquilly, every eye 
fixed upon the reader, who pored upon his book through mag- 
nifying spectacles, often moving his hands with gestures of 
agitation which contrasted strangely with the level funeral 
flow of his voice. There were four women, not counting 
Kate, in addition to the partners, and I own I was struck and 
even affected as I looked down upon that scene of worship 
from the height of the poop deck. Instead of ropes and 
spars, and the glitter and music of the sea outside, and the 
noise and spectacle of the screeching females forward, you 
needed but a wood or a little open space in a forest 2A a 
theater for that group to help you to figure some quaint, 
primitive scene of early settlement, when such another figure 
as Brigstock, an elder or father, with lifted hands, and deep 
voice trembling with fervor, invoked God's blessing upon the 
soil the family knelt on, upon the hopes and resolutions which 
had brought them to it, upon the little band whose seed here- 
after was to be as the sands of the shore. 

I was glad when the women silenced their noise, perhaps 
ashamed of themselves, or curious to watch the worshipers, 
or knowing no more hymns. I hated Brigstock, but all the 
same I said amen along with the rest of them at the end of 
his prayers. 

They spent an hour thus, many of the women creeping in 
twos and threes aft, nearer and nearer to hearken, then sitting 
down and joining in the worship. It ended in Brigstock 
looking round him and saying : 

" Capt'n, my lads, and ladies, you that are of us, and you 
that are simply a-listening, here's the first of some verses as I 
learnt when I was a boy, which I can't tell jer the music of. 
I've altered some words to suit this occasion. If yer please, 
we'll sing it to the hair of * So farey well, my pretty young 


gell ! ' " And in his deep voice he recited the following lines, 
delivering them as solemnly as he had read prayers : 

" Oh, we are the partners what sails the deep. 

Hurrah, my boys ! Hurrah, my girls ! 
The Lord's heye's on us awake or asleep, 

Hurrah, my boys ! Good-by, fare yer well ! 
We'll sing to his glory as on we sails, 

Hurrah, mv boys ! Hurrah, my girls I 
For he*s our Capt n in calms and in gales. 

Hurrah, my boys, we're homeward bound ! " 

The sailors sang these words to the famous windlass chantey, 
with deep enjoyment of the melody, and not their partners 
only, but many other women swelled the chorus. 

Throughout stout-hearted Susannah Corbin held the ship 
steady to her course. 



This same Sunday night it came on to blow in the middle 
watch; it was the first of a spell of as heavy weather as ever I 
can remember. We snugged down to a close-reefed main top- 
sail and storm trysail ; and, under these and the fore topmast 
staysail, the ship, with her fore and after yards braced aback, 
her rigging blowing out, her decks full of water, pitched and 
rolled, surging in thunderous heaves to windward to the 
under-rush of the boiling steep, then sloping to leeward till it 
was all roaring froth to the shear-poles. Sometimes we got a 
slant and braced away for a run, but again and yet again we 
had to heave her to. 

A gale at sea is abominable at any time, but unspeakably so 
when you are on board a ship full of women. It was impos- 
sible to keep the girls battened down. Yet the hatches had to 
be on if the ship was not to fill and founder. 

Taking advantage of a lull after the women had been impris- 
oned for many hours, I went below to see how things fared 
there. The atmosphere was poisonous. It was wonderful the 
lantern did not burn blue. A dark, dismal, miserable picture: 
figures stretched helplessly about on the decks or on the 
shelves; benches, mess utensils, and the like rushing and 
plunging from side to side over the planks, with the swift and 
frenzied heaving of the ship; creakings and strainings furious 
as the noises of a battlefield, terrific to the imprisoned ears 


with the volcanic shock of the smiting surge bursting against 
the side, or falling in tons overhead. 

There was but one remedy. The women were not to be 
stifled-— especially Kate — so I brought the whole blessed lot of 
them, eighty-nine in all, now that Mary Lonney had cut her 
throat, not counting Miss Cobbs — I brought the whole lot of 
them, I say, into the cuddy, and there they lived for some 
days of tempest, sleeping upon their own bedding on the cabin 
deck, and eating at the table of such food as could be served 
without fire; for the galley had been thrice washed out, and 
Wambold nearly killed by a sea that dashed him against the 
bulwarks, and left him stranded and unconscious under the 

Many of the women were shockingly seasick. Miss Cobbs 
horribly so. I see her now sitting at the table leaning her 
thin chin in her hands, speechless with nausea, her sausage 
decorations out of curl, and Brigstock opposite, fresh from the 
deck, in a streaming coat, and white-eyed with dried brine, 
extending a pannikin of rum, and begging her, in his deep, 
serious voice, to drain it down, as it was more settling than 
brandy. I made Kate take my cabin, and she shared it with 
five of the most delicate among the girls, three being govern- 
esses, and, like Kate, gentlewomen. 

After several days of this sort of thing, all wool-white cliflFs 
below straining and curling with the gale, all wet, flying shadow 
on high, with never more than a sulphur-colored break where 
it wasn't raining for one minute; the wind flew into the north, 
the weather cleared, and a few hours later the ship was going 
before it with dark mastheaded topsails, and lifting fore course, 
and main topgallant sail still wrinkled with the long grip of the 
gaskets; the sun sparkling in the northwest, a huge foam- 
freckled swell of the sea in chase, and a large albatross hang- 
ing over the wide race of wake; the decks already dry; the 
watch below spreading their wet togs on the forecastle ; the 
main hatch open, and a dozen women about the decks holding 
on and watching the majestic blue folds sweeping past the ship 
to midway the height of the lower rigging. 

Well, that albatross might have told them the Southern 
Cross was now a nightly show, and that we could think of the 
Horn as a thing no longer remote. 

When I went on deck to get an observation of the sun on this 
day, Joe Harding, whose face looked more than commonly 
sour in its setting of narrow thatched sou'wester, said to me, 
while I stood beside him to look at the ship as she went rolling 
over the prodigious heave left by the gale: ' 


"Them sailors o' yourn, sir, han't been of much use since it 
came on to blow." 

"As useful as the rest of you. Nothing wanted doing." 

"They'd ha' made a tidy show aloft a-reefing!" said he, 
with an acid look at the topsail yard. 

"There's to be no reefing for them this side of the Horn, I 
told you." 

"They'll go up for good, I allow," said he, "afore they 
goes up at all. * * 

You be hung! I thought to myself, turning from him; but 
he had put a thought into my head, and next day I carried 
it out. 

It was fine enough to enable me to do so. All weight had 
gone out of the run of the sea in the night, and at eight in the 
morning the ship was thrusting through it at about seven; the 
port fore topmast studding sail set, the wind cold and bright, 
something to the south of east, with three sails close together 
on the horizon, glittering icily under the sun, and the ship 
forward like a laundry drying ground. 

' Once again in my cabin I had overhauled the ship's papers; 
and, having clearly ascertained what I wanted to know, I said 
to Brigstock after breakfast, when I went on deck: 

"Where's the lading of clothing stowed in this ship, do you 

"They're a light cargo, and *11 be on top, anyhow. Jer 
dom't dig to a vessel's dunnage for jackets and vests." 

"Forward or aft?" 

"Aft, I should think, sir." 

"Well, then, Mr. Brigstock, whether forward or aft, a bale 
or two of men's clothes must be come at, so send a couple of 
hands into the hold — down aft to start with." 

He hailed the fore part of the ship and gave the necessary 
instructions in his deep, preaching voice, leaning over the rail 
to speak to the men. 

While I paced the poop, Kate came aft with Perry to give 
her a lesson on the pipe, and presently the wind was merry 
with the silver whistling; than which there is no gayer sound, 
and no better music in the wide world unto which to wed the 
poem of a ship, whether it blows hard and the boatswain is 
hoarsely bawling, or whether it is a gentle and a springlike 
scene of ocean as this 'morning was, with the sunshine raining 
upon the breasts of canvas till, looking off the leeches of the 
sails, you see the overflow of light trembling into the blue 
air in a silver sheen, lovely and wonderful, a miracle of deli- 
cate reflection. 


I stopped the piping to talk to Kate, and to promise Alice 
Perry that our sailor classes would start afresh soon. While I 
was talking earnestly and apart with Kate, Brigstock came to 
tell me that the men had found the clothing in the after hold, 
and had got several bales up. Where were they to be put? 
In the cuddy, said I, and after a little left Kate and the other 
to go on with their piping, and went below. 

The men had brought up four large bales of wearing 
apparel. These, I believe, were consignments from the Colo- 
nization Society: I'm not sure. They were stitched like wool 
bales. I sliced through a short length of stitqhing and found 
the contents female apparel. But the next was men's, and I 
noted the marks; a diamond for men's, and a cross with a 
letter over it for women's. 

Gouger entered the cabin just then, and I told him to shut 
the door and help me. In fact, the curiosity of the women 
was so great that, on catching sight of me in the cuddy stoop- 
ing over three or four big bales, forty or fifty were already 
crowding about the front, making deadlights for the windows 
with their heads, and elbowing one another through the door. 

I made Gouger hold up the articles of clothing as I pulled 
them out of the bales. In a short time this end of the interior 
looked like a cheap outfitter's shop; with trousers, caps, waist- 
coats, and such things. The coats were mostly of shiny blue 
cloth with velvet collars; I pulled many velvet waistcoats out 
of the bale. The breeches, as they hung from Gouger' s lifted 
arms, showed of a -flowing bell shape. There was a great 
number of caps, both in cloth and fur. 

I made the clothes into parcels — every parcel a suit — and 
told Gouger to fetch Miss Cobbs. She promptly arrived, with 
something of the greenish tinge of her recent severe spell of 
sickness still lingering in her thin face, but her smirk was firm 
and defined, the lift and fall of her eyes demurely coquettish. 

She courtesied, and gazed with surprise at the clothes which 
lay in little heaps along the deck. 

"I intend," said I, "to equip my ship's company of women 
with a suit apiece." 

"Indeed, sir!" 

' * Yes, Miss Cobbs. Their petticoats are in the way of their 
work. Will you overlook the girls while they try the things 
on? They can use these cabins. Everything must be done 
with the strictest regard to propriety." 

"Well, sir, I can only say it's a pleasure to sail along with 
such a gentleman as you," she exclaimed, sinking her lean 
figure in another courtesy. "So different from most ship 

A/y GIRL CREW, 257 

captains, Fm sure. Some very 'orrid stories are told of 
female emigrant ships." 

"Nothing horrid shall be told of the Earl of Leicester ^ Miss 
Cobbs. Your partner, Brigstock, is a very remarkable person. 
Only, when you become his wife, make him wary in forming 
his judgment of men.** 

She courtesied again, as though to thank me. I asked her 
to stay where she was and receive the women, and passed on 
to the quarter-deck, where a large number of the girls were 
assembled. Catching Kate's eye as she stood near the hatch, 
I beckoned her to me and asked her to .whistle **all hands." 
She did so, and in a minute the girls of my company were 
hurrying up the ladder on to the poop, with others who had 
caught the note of the summons down in the 'tween decks, 
running up the main hatch steps. I was amused by the inter- 
est they took in the work, and by their alertness and zeal ; and 
while I stood with Kate watching them flouncing up the 
ladder, I said: 

•'What would they think at Blathford of your whistling all 
those girls into that scramble, as though you were some god- 
dess with a magic pipe, which you needed but to breathe into 
to set everybody leaping?** 

**I find,*' said she, **that this pipe makes me a boatswain. 
I thought I was to be a mate. ' ' 

"Whose mate?** said I, looking^at her. 

"Why, yours, of course,** she answered ingenuously; and 
the significance of the answer then occurring to her, she 
colored a fine red, and went with confusion up the ladder 
after the other women, I following. 

The girls stood to windward, thinking I had called them to 
drill. I pulled off my cap and gave them a bow; I observed 
that this punctual salute pleased them, and said: 

"Ladies, there*s in this ship a quantity of men*s wearing 
apparel. It will be impossible for you to work in the clothes 
you have on. I have a settled intention, if you will enable me 
to carry it out, of navigating this ship to Sydney with your 
help alone. 1*11 ship no risk of destruction, of murder, of 
crime, in the shape of a crew of men. The Pacific beach 
combers are mostly ruffians and scoundrels, escaped convicts, 
savages of a bloodier character thah the natives who*d eat 
them. Nor will I make for the Sandwich Islands for a 
Kanaka crew. When we are in sunny quiet seas t'other side 
the Horn, you and I, ladies, will work the ship, and carry her 
safely into Sydney Bay. Have you a doubt of it?" 

"It's got to be done," cried Alice Perry, quick as lightning. 


4 41 

We don't want no more men on board." 
No bad 'uns anyway," said Miss Emmy Reed. 
A pretty lot there's on board now!" exclaimed a woman, 
and yet I dare say what with their snivelin' psalm singing, 
and their keeping to theirselves, they'd be considered respecta- 
ble men for sailors." 

Brigstock, who was on the other side of the deck listening, 
on hearing this, delivered four or five deep-toned notes of 
laugh ter,like the opening, hiccoughing music of a donkey's bray. 
Where's the clothes?" cried Perry, coming toward me. 
Ladies, let me have my say. It will be necessary that 
those who work this ship should be dressed in men's clothes 
after Mr. Brigstock and his people have left us. I propose 
that this morning you try the suits on, and show yourselves in 
them. It will be what actors would call a dress rehearsal. 
Every day you'll clothe yourselves for drill, so that you'll 
speedily grow used to the novelty of the garments, and lose 
the embarrassment which, of course, I expect at the start you 
will most, indeed all of you, feel." 

"Not me, I swear!" said Alice Perry. 

"Nor me," cried Fanny Pike, whom I should have consid- 
ered the likeliest of any of them to hang back and make a 
difficulty of the thing. 

"Nor me — nor me!" was shouted by several other voices. 

Some, however, colored and looked shyly, and made 
remarks one to another in low tones. There was a great deal 
of giggling and headshaking, and "Oh, I can'tl" and "What 
a sight I'll be!" and "What '11 the sailors say!" and other 
exclamations of the kind. Catching up one of these sen- 
tences, I said: 

"Don't trouble your heads about what the men may think. 
They'll stare a bit and grin, I dare say. Will you mind th^t?" 

A woman snapped her fingers, and Perry tossed her head 
with a contemptuous shrug of her shoulders. 

"But the crew," I went on, **will as quickly get used to the 
sight of you as you to one another, and find no more to look 
at in a girl with a man's coat on than in that mast there. 
Miss Cobbs is waiting for you in the cuddy. Those willing to 
make the experiment will please descend by the companion- 
way yonder." 

A rush followed. There were thirty girls in all, not count- 
ing Kate. About twenty fled to the companion hatch and 
disappeared as fast as they could move. The remainder stood 
talking, giggling, staring at one another, everyone urging 
the rest, 


"I'd go if I had your figure, Miss Halsted." 

**I can't abear the thought of making a sight of myself." 

**Just try it once, Miss Hale, you'll make the prettiest 
young man, you can't think." 

"Well, if Margaret Evans has the courage to, I ought," said 
a girl, and away she went. 

Others presently followed her. Three then remained, and, 
after I had talked with them a bit, and pointed out that the 
larger the number the smaller the embarrassment, that there 
were hundreds of instances of women passing as men, that our 
case was peculiar, and that the apparel now to be tried on 
need not be worn until after the crew had gone; after, I say, 
I had talked to them in this way the three consented, and went 
with blushes and titters to the companion hatch. 

The women were a long time below. The skylight was 
closed, and I heard no noise, but I guessed there would be 
plenty — shrieks of excitement, calls of mortification or delight; 
thirty girls trying on clothes! wouldn't the cabin they used be 
clamorous? They had looking-glasses, too, in the cuddy, long 
slips of mirror which showed the figure; small wonder they 
were in no hurry. 

A heap of women watched at the cuddy front, but the door 
was closed, and as the girls used the berths to dress in there 
was little of the fun to be seen from the quarter-deck. 

Kate went below by the companionway to take a look round 
and report if any of the women were at a loss to fit themselves; 
if so. Miss Cobbs was to open the other bale, making the third, 
one of female clothes only having been brought up. While 
I was looking over the poop-break, a woman called up to me 
to ask if nobody but the girls I taught" were to be dressed as 

"That's all," I answered. 

"As I told you. Miss Stokes," exclaimed a woman. 

"It won't be fair, then," yelped the other snappishly. 

I pretended to be suddenly engrossed by some subject on 
the horizon over the weather bow. 

"I wonder what Mr. Brigstock thinks of the capt'n a-dressing 
up his own party and taking no more notice of the rest of us 
than's if we was dirt and slime under his feet?" snarled 
Emma Marks, backing with the motions of a recoiling cat to 
catch a view of Brigstock, who was standing to leeward. 

He turned a wooden face upon the little Jewess, and, with- 
out heeding her, slowly walked toward the wheel. 

Nice samples as servants, some of you! thought I, to send 
out ^t the public cost, and be kept on arrival at the expense of 


the colony till you're furnished with situations you're as unfit 
for as you'd be fit, durn ye, to marry costermongers, and 
embark on a back alley life of drink and broken heads. But 
let me be just! they were not all Emma Markses. Even in 
that envious crowd down upon the quarter-deck I had noticed 
countenances almost of refinement, with one fair girl on the 
skirts of the mob looking up at me with a face, 

Like the milky way i' the sky 
A meeting of gentle lights without a name. 

On a sudden I heard a great noise of laughter in the com- 
panion, and five women dressed as men rushed out and began 
to cut a hundred ridiculous capers, dancing, toe-and-heeling 
as in the hornpipe, hopping, rolling in imitation of a drunken 
sailor, laughing as if they would split their sides all the while, 
with Brigstock beside the wheel, and Snortledge at it, shaking 
and rumbling in convulsions of uncontrolled merriment. I 
had never imagined Brigstock could have been so moved. 

But indeed the antics of the girls thus dressed were very 
ridiculous. I had to look hard before I recognized the little 
fools. Their clothes shrunk them to half their former size ; 
they seemed mere striplings of lads, spite of their swelling 

The first who had dashed up was Alice Perry. She wore 
a fur cap, a buttoned-up round jacket with a velvet collar ; and 
her feet, which were not particularly small, were almost lost in 
the bell-shaped foot of her trousers. She had piled her hair 
up so as to get most of it under her cap, but plenty — black, 
tossed, wild upon her brow — remained, and she looked the 
^most defiant, saucy, handsome figure of a young sailor the 
fancy could picture. 

Two others were similarly attired, saving that three wore 
cloth caps, and had been at no pains to conceal their hair. 
They larked about, squealing, romping, dancing, never heed- 
ing me more than Brigstock or Snortledge. At last Alice 
Perry, arresting herself in a certain extravagant hornpipe 
shuffle and twirl with grace inimitable, because natural and 
unconscious, cried with her eyes on fire, and her face red with 
merriment and exertion: 

"Aint I to be your bo'sun, capt'n, now I'm a man? Tell 
Miss Darnley to give me the whistle. She can keep all on 
teaching me if she will till I'm perfick! And do 'e say," she 
cried, flashing her face upon Brigstock and pointing at hirii, 
"that I'm afraid of the masts?" 

She sprang, and with astonishing agility wa5 in the mizzen 


rigging before I could sing out ; up she trotted in defiance of 
my roars to her to come down, with an occasional miss of her 
foot, so that one or the other leg would shoot through the 
ratlines; but with a spirit I relished for its English daring spite 
of her disobedience and my fear she'd go overboard, she 
gained the futtock shrouds, squeezed through the lubbers' 
hole, and standing erect in the top, pulled her fur cap off and 
waved it frantically, shrieking, "Hurrah! hurrah!" 

Nearly all the crew stood forward, staring aft with grins, 
and that look of stupid delight and wonder which is charac- 
teristic of a profession that sees little more than salt water, 
and is therefore easily pleased. 

While Perry was hurrahing up in the mizzen top, half a score 
of girls, breeked and jacketed, dashed up the companionway, 
laughing at the top of their pipes. One of them was Susan- 
nah Corbin, who, the instant she caught sight of Perry aloft, 
made for the mizzen rigging, and slapped her way up the rat- 
lines with the nimbleness of an old hand. Nay, she took the 
futtock shrouds and went over the edge of the top, and worked 
her way up as high as the topmast crosstrees, where she 
stood, looking down into the top while she called out, **Why 
don't you come up here. Miss Perry? There's out'n away 
more to be seen." 

"Come down! Come down!" I shouted. 

The rest of the women were by this time on deck. The 
poop looked as though a boy's school had in some magical 
manner come over the side. Kate alone, of the women aft, 
wore the clothes of her sex; no, I must also except Miss 
Cobbs, who had stationed herself alongside of Brigstock near 
the wheel, and was staring up at the girls aloft with her thin 
lips parted in a little yawn of horror. Screeches of laughter 
were perpetually coming from the emigrants who watched the 
scene from the bulwarks or the poop ladder. 

Indeed the transformation was more extraordinary than lan- 
guage can convey. All these girls wore their hair as before, 
and still they looked as much boys and young men as though 
they were so. The oddness lay in the manner the clothes 
shrunk them; with few exceptions they seemed half their 
former size; some, who would pass as fairly fine girls of the 
average stature in their gowns, were so small in their male 
attire you would have thought them as easy to lift and ru» 
away with as little children. 

They made a wild confusion with their laughter, shrill 
remarks, rollicking airs, and graces for the diversion of the 
main deck spectators. 


My repeated bawling to Perry and Corbin to come down 
caused the general attention to be directed aloft; and, greatly 
to my dismay and annoyance, four girls — of whom I remem- 
ber two were Ellen Clark (who wore spectacles) and Mary 
^Barker (a small, pretty, active girl, with beautiful chestnut 
hair and soft dark eyes, though with a broken nose that put 
the ugliest profile in the ship upon her); four girls, I say, 
sprang to the rigging. I jumped, seized one, and pulled her 
off the rail, shouting to the others not to attempt it — that there 
was plenty of time — that I meant to give them lessons by and 
by, but the three little fools persevered; and laughing and 
squeaking, and gripping the shrouds as though to squeeze all 
the tar out, they crawled about two-thirds high, and then came 
down silently, and very slowly indeed, feeling for the ratlines 
with extraordinarily wary feet, watched almost breathlessly by 
me, who expected every moment to see one or another tumble 
back overboard, and deaf to the impassioned invitation of 
Corbin in the crosstrees, and the taunts and sneers of Perry 
in the top. 

Those two came down in a few minutes; Corbin as though 
she had been used to running up and down rigging all her life. 
Perry leisurely and carefully ; for to the beginner it is always 
easier going up than coming down a rope ladder. Corbin, 
when she gained the deck, looked at me with a hot, exulting 
face filled with a demand for applause; Perry stuck her tongue 
into her cheek at Brigstock and then shrieked: 

"Why didn't the others finish goin* up, like me and Susan- 
nah, to let the sailors see how 'ousemaids and cooks can do 
without *em?" 

It was not for me to reprove those bold young spirits. I 
had never for a moment doubted that a trained band of women 
— numbers adjusting the difference of strength between the 
sexes — could work a ship on deck just as well as any company 
of seamen ; but I had now evidence that active, spirited girls, 
with an eye fearless of height, could be made useful, fine- 
weather sailors of for going aloft. More than this I had not 
expected. In truth I had never dared hope for so much. To 
carry the ship to Sydney, working her from the deck, with big 
trust in the summer seas of the Pacific, leaving the weather to 
work its will with such canvas as it might compel me to clew 
up and haul down, was the extent of my dream. Any meas- 
ure, no matter how impracticable or foolhardy at first sight, to 
the diabolic risk of shipping a new, strange crew on board a 
vessel full of women, with a single officer in command ! 

When they were on deck after Perry had shrieked out, I 


called to the girls to' put themselves together in a body to 
windward, and hold their tongues, as I wished to inspect them 
and ask a question or two. By this time something of the 
first blush of novelty was gone; the girls had exhausted 
mutual criticism, and were perhaps tired of laughing and 
posture making. I bade Kate blow the familiar music of "All 
hands!" mainly to 1;heatricalize the proceedings into the best 
possible keeping with that sort of vulgar taste which I reck- 
oned upon our company possessing. She blew as directed, 
and then I bawled again: 

"Fall in now, my lads! Get yourselves together there to 
wind'ard," at which there was a general laugh, but they all 
obeyed, and made the strangest picture of that poop you can 
imagine, with their mass of thirty male-clad figures, their eyes 
black, blue, bright, and otherwise, glancing mockingly, coyly, 
with all sorts of expressions under their roughened curls or 
smooth bands. 

I was at no small trouble to keep my face steady, under the 
converging stare, bright as light in some parts, of those thirty 
pairs of eyes. The girls ranged themselves shoulder to shoul- 
der in a double rank, very easily, and with feminine grace 
yielding to the heave of the deck; some few were shy and wore 
a little color on their cheeks, and looked awkwardly while I 
ran my gaze over the lot of them, but on the whole there was 
nothing of the embarrassment I had expected. On the con- 
trary, I noticed much enjoyment of the thing as something 
fresh and new — a break in the melancholy monotony of ship- 
board life. Then again their vanity was tickled. Doubtless 
there were but few who did not consider they looked charming, 
and it was delightful to be envied by the women on the main- 
deck; also the sailors* grinning countenances and fixed 
observation suggested enough of flattering appreciation to fill 
up the poor things' measure of satisfaction. 

I made them a short speech, thanking them for this fresh 
instance of their willingness to oblige me, and assuring them 
that never yet had a captain reason to be prouder of his ship's 
company than I. I told them that if they, one and all, but 
knew what a delicious crew of sailors they made in those 
clothes, they would be in no hurry to take them off. 

This tickled them finely. 

I then inquired if the clothes fitted them comfortably. 
They all said yes. Two or three complained that their coats 
were rather large, and the sleeves long, holding up their arms 
in proof. 

•'There are scissors and needles and thread among you," 


said I. "You'll be able to make your clothes fit. Everyone 
will keep her own suit when she removes it. Mark them for 
yourselves that there may be no confusion and misfits.** 

"They haint yours to give away in that cool fashion," cried 
the voice of one of the listeners who crowded the poop ladder. 

That they might understand how very much more comfort- 
ably they'd be able to pull and haul in male attire than in 
gowns and petticoats, I made them let go the mizzen royal, 
topgallant, and topsail halliards, and hoist the yards afresh. 
It was truly an extraordinary sight to see them pulling. Perry 
got on to the rail to sing out, the rest tailed on, and then to 
the song of "Cheerily, men!** which they had picked up from 
the sailors, they mastheaded the yards, one after the other, in 
strokes as rhythmically pat to the time of their clear girlish 
chant as the lift and fall of the oars of a man-of-war*s man's 

Brigstock looked on with a wooden face of astonishment. 
Some of the sailors cheered the girls when they belayed the 
topsail halliards — a note of involuntary approval that proved 
contagious, and twenty or thirty of the bulwark and poop 
ladder spectators screamed a round of hurrahs. Miss Cobbs 
alone seemed to dislike the picture. She stood beside Brig- 
stock with her arms folded, her lips sourly curled to the shape 
of a finger-nail paring, her glances darting and forbidding, and 
her thin nostrils wide with objection. 

I thanked the girls once more, and requested them to be so 
good as to go below and change their clothes. 

"Mayn't those willing to wear 'em keep 'em on?" asked 
Alice Perry. 

"No, if you please," I answered blandly. **Each will 
make the suit she wears into a bundle ; and, to-morrow, weather 
permitting, you will bring them into the cuddy, where you'll 
change, as to-day, and we'll have two hours of drill." 

This satisfied them, and quieted the few whose faces had 
threatened a difficulty. 

They ran below, again making a great noise with laughter, 
jokes, and whistling, followed by Miss Cobbs. 

"Well," said I to Kate, who was looking through the glass 
of the skylight and laughing to herself, "what do you think?" 

"That you'll make your extraordinary scheme answer," she 

"I have sworn it," I exclaimed. "Once those fellows are 
out of the ship, no man must step aboard till we've entered 
the Heads." 

"But will they go out of the ship?" 

THE HORN, 26s 

At that moment Brigstock solemnly stalked up to us. 

"Capt'n Morgan," said he, with a sort of slow, brooding 
stare, "if jer willing to reconsider jer decision and settle 
along with us jer shall have my place." 

"Thanks,** said I, smiling, **but I rather want to get home." 

"Jer an abler man than me," he continued, preserving his 
queer gaze, and speaking in a voice charged with admiration, 
but of a dead kind, without animation to give a turn to his 
accents, **and the right sort of party, sir, to take the head of 
a young constitootion. How jer manage to make them gals 
do what jer tell 'em beats all my going a-fishing. Only Miss 
Cobbs is of opinion that the dress you mean to put them into 
haint exactly calculated to keep up that helement of propriety 
which you've been all along for maintaining." 

**I differ from Miss Cobbs," said I, "but respect her opin- 
ion nevertheless. My scheme is as clear cut as yours, 
Mr. Brigstock. It wants working up as yours did, and 
Miss Cobbs does not of course forget the oath that you and 
the crew have taken." 

He inclined his head gravely, and left us. 



After this incident of the women dressing as men, the 
shipboard routine went along very quietly and orderly, without 
stop or break worth recurring to, till we entered the cold and 
stormy parallels of the Horn. Day after day the women 
habited themselves for the deck work; they viewed it as a 
diversion, and made fun of it, yet did so well, were so willing, 
nimble, and obedient — for I was never weary of making them 
understand that the safety of the ship rested with them, and 
that if I shipped fresh hands, no matter whether from the land 
or the sea, I stood to have my throat cut, while the ship would 
be walked off with, her cargo stolen, and the women barbar- 
ously ill-used. I say they were so willing and learned so 
readily that before drill was stopped by the bitter, howling 
weather of the far south, they were fully equal to handling the 
ship, to the extent even of five of them, namely Alice Perry, 
Susannah Corbin, Ellen Clark, Mary Barker, and a girl named 
Mabel Marshall, being able to furl in very light weather the 
mizzen royal (Perry and Corbin) and topgallant sail (all five) 
while beside these there were four others, namely Elizabeth 


Halsted, Alice Fitton, Emmy Reed, and Charlotte Brown 
equal to the task of * 'laying out" on the cross-jack yard, and 
assisting the other lot to stow the sail. 

This was very well, but it will not be thought wonderful by 
those who are acquainted with the marine records, nor by any 
with knowledge of the class out of which I shaped my supple- 
mental crew. 

Brigstock and the men gave me no trouble whatever. They 
went about their work soberly and decorously, kept to their 
end of the ship, never laid hands upon anything to eat and 
drink which they had not a right to, never once gave any of 
the women occasion to complain of their conduct. And still, 
though their bearing showed the influence of Brigstock strong 
upon them, I never could persuade myself they would stick to 
their resolution when it came to the point. When they saw 
the island that was to suit them — a smiling land if you will, a 
paradise of an island, beautiful and romantic as that spot 
which the passions and wickedness of man had in those times 
made the blackest hell of on the face of the world, but without 
a house, not an inch of manufactured roof for momentary 
shelter, nothing stirring but the flashing breaker, or the boughs 
of trees bending with the soft wind, or birds of lustrous 
plumage, darting like beams of light from one green shadow 
to another! 

I never spoke to any of them saving Brigstock, and once or 
twice Bull, about their scheme. All that the former had to 
say about it convinced me of his patient resolution and rugged, 
rough enthusiasm. Often when we sat together at table he*d 
enlarge upon his project and tax my gravity with his voice. 
He told me there were very few ideas he meant to borrow 
from civilization ; he couldn't see his way much further than 
houses and ships like to what the Europeans build; he rather 
leaned toward a post-office as a convenient institution when in 
the course of time numbers should render it necessary. His 
ceaseless regret was that he was not twenty years younger. 

"That there Christian,*' he'd say, "never had a chance of 
seeing what sort of a job Pitcairn was a-goin' to prove. I 
allow that a man wants about forty year to carry out his 
notions, to nurse 'em, to trim here and correct there, and so 
lay what I calls concrete foundations. Look at New Zealand 
' — look at Tasmania; take them places forty" year ago, and see 
what's happened to 'em since. I dorn't want no money in 
our, colony. Let all savin's be in produce. Money lowers 
men's morals. I know men who'd pick the last flower off 
their mother's graves if they could sell it. Another notion o* 

THE HORN. 267 

mine is this: I'm for teachin' my people to possess by en- 
joyin* ! What I says is, the man that enjoys the hobject he 
views possesses it as much as the man that owns it. Take 
picture, landscapes, dress, jools — jer '11 find it true." And so 
he'd talk, assuring me that among his other ambitions was a 
wish to create a new and original kind of civilization, with a 
little leaning toward old world institutions, such as a post- 

I was long suspicious of Bull, however, and often uneasy 
with thoughts of how he might conceive a sudden aversion to 
Brigstock's project; and, by talking as a man acquainted with 
the South Seas, bring others in the forecastle into his way of 
thinking. I was resolved, however, not to keep him should 
he change his mind. No, I would not risk the having even 
one man on board. 

But not to dwell on this : one night when we were off the 
Falklands, an icy, breathless night, and the ship tolling on a 
large black swell, on going to look at the compass I found 
Bull at the wheel. Harding, observing me, went to the for- 
ward part of the poop. Over and over again I had been on 
deck when Bull was at the helm, and every hour had provided 
an opportunity to speak with him had I chosen to do so. Yet 
not till this night — it was between eleven and twelve, the decks 
dark and still, and the ship filling the silent obscurity with a 
fitful thunder of flapping canvas — did I think proper to settle 
my misgivings. 

I entered into talk, warily leading to the subject of Brig- ^ 
stock's scheme, and asked him if he thought the crew had still 
a good opinion of that man as a leader in a project of colon- 

**Yes, sir," he answered, with all necessary warmth. 
* 'We're agreed there could be no better man than Mr. Brig- 
stock for the likes of such an undertaking. He's one of them 
men there's no imitating; when he's gone up he draws his 
ladder arter him." 

**rve sometimes doubted he'll get all hands of you to go 

**No fear of their not going!" he exclaimed. **I reckon 
the island my mates now call Bull Island '11 be the settlement." 

"Kw know those parts; the others, most of them, anyhow, 
don't; when J they see an island without houses, white men, 
any signs of civilization, what then?" 

"If it's my island it '11 be the island we want, and it '11 be a 
bad lookout if we do see houses, and white men." 

This delighted me; something in his voice carried conviction. 


I «' 

I <- 

'What .will your partners think when you show them an 
island without a roof in it? They're not sailors, Bull. 
They've been used to sheets and blankets and ceilings, though 
of attics." 

He laughed and answered, ''We'll be having a village built 
in the inside of a week. Was you ever down among the 


"The natives build their cottages oval, 'bout sixty feet long 
and twenty wide; walls o' bamboo with openings for light and 
air. They lashes a great piece of light, strong wood atop with 
sennit for the support of the rafters, which they cover with 
mats. The earth's the floor. They make rooms by hanging 
up screens." 

"You know all about it." 

"I know a good deal about it," he answered, talking with 
some excitement. "You mention blankets and sheets, sir; 
the first lady in England's not going to sleep more comfortably 
in a gilt four-poster with silk curtains than our partners on a 
frame o' cane, and a pillow stuffed with sweet herbs." 
I believe that." 

'I remember the master of a vessel," he went on, "telling 
another down at Tahiti that a native of that there island may 
start as a beggar at sunrise without e'er a tool to work with, 
nor a hole to put his head in, and afore sundown he's clothed 
and lodged, out and away better than thousands in England, 
better than men earning a pound, aye, and two pound a 
week. ' ' 

"How is it done?" 

"Out of the cocoanut, and the breadfruit, and the bamboo." 

"No wonder Mr. Brigstock values you as an acquisition. 

"I've been hard worked long enough, sir," he exclaimed, 
with some feeling in his strong, steady voice. "The chest o' 
clothes I left aboard the schooner is all I own, and that^ God 
forgive me, arter more years of man-killing work than I like to 
think of. I feel like relishing any sort o* scheme that's a-going 
to give me ease, that's a-going to let me loaf and take all the 
sleep I want, where there *11 be no skippers and mates, and 
enough to eat and drink, and kind words." 
That's about the fo'c's'le view." 

'About. Why not? A few inconveniences at the start — 
what's to be said of they as agin years of wet bunks, years of 
pumping the ship out, years of all night work in living gales, 
and food that dogs 'ud give their tails to?" 


THE HORN. 269 

•'You'll be making me in love with your scheme," said I, 
with a short laugh. 

"You may depend upon it, there's a future afore a settle- 
ment of Englishmen in them seas," he said, with a note of 
Brigstock's earnestness in his voice. "Yes, an* a time may 
come when our little colony might even see its way to exports. 
I've bin asked, what ha' yer got? and, arter looking into my 
memory, for it's some years since I was in them parts, I've 
answered, 'First of all yer might work up a trade in tortoise 
shell; then there's cocoanuts, and cocoanut ile; yer may raise 
arrowroot, and ginger, and coffee. Sugar too's to be consid- 
ered ; and for what might be called light industries, there's the 
making of straw hats.' " 

He could not see my face, and for a little I stood silent, 
shaking with suppressed laughter. 

But this was a talk mightily to my liking, and I continued it 
for another half hour, starting such objections as I thought 
might occur to the seamen to hinder them from settling, and 
listening to his answers, all which were plain, straight-headed, 
and satisfying. I recollect I asked him how the women would 
arrange for clothes? He replied, *as at Pitcairn, Tristan, and 
other little settlements.' I pointed out that the Bounty people 
had carried off native women to settle with, to whom one island 
would yield as many of the conveniences they had been used 
to as another, but that the crew's partners were English- 
women, accustomed to clothes all their lives. 

"Aye," said he, "but the descendants of the Bounty lot were 
civilized. Adams made 'em dress. They got stuff for their 
wants out of passing vessels." 

"That," said I, "must leave you dependent upon the out- 
side world for clothes. Should no ship touch, what then?" 

"Well, yer see," he replied, "dress is one of them things 
that needn't trouble anyone down in that climate. The 
natives manage very well on tappa, and leaves, and feathers." 

I called Kate on to the poop next morning; and, in a walk 
that ran into an hour told her of my conversation with Bull, 
and asked her to get at the views of the women, because, 
should they hesitate when we rounded into the Pacific, the 
men would be discouraged, and the scheme fall through. She 
needed time to manage this, for the. girls were reluctant to 
talk, particularly to her; they classed her with those who 
they believed sneered at them as degraded and unwomanly. 

However, she succeeded first of all in getting hold of Sail 
Simmonds, Prentice's choice, a shrill, hysterical, saucy girl, 
and afterward of Weatherwax's partner, Maggie Dobree, who 


had shipped for Australia as a seamstress, and who, with her 
tall, willowy form, white face, and smooth hair, looked the 
most respectable of the sailors' choosings. 

It was three days after my talk with Bull that Kate came on 
to the poop of her own accord. It was in the afternoon ; the 
wind was fresh abeam, the ship under single-reefed topsails, a 
clear sky astern, but over the bows a heap of Cape Horn stuff, 
sooty, stooping, hoary at its ragged edges as with snow. 

Most of the women were below; they found the deck too 
cold for them, though I had drilled my company for an hour 
that morning, and the mizzen topgallant sail had been stowed 
by Corbin, Alice Perry, and two others. 

Kate looked charming in a thick cloth jacket, and some sort 
of round, tight-fitting hat. Her eyes had the sparkle of the 
ocean brine, and all the health of the sea was in her red 
cheeks and red lips. 

"I've come to have a walk with you," said she. "I've 
talked to two of the girls, Dobree and Simmonds, and think 
their views represent the others. Simmonds sees things as you 
might suppose a forward, thoughtless, and not very intelligent 
person would. She told me bluntly she wanted a husband, 
and was sick of service. She likes her man. Prentice, she 
said, and whatever's good for him is good for her." 

"Did you ask how the colony was to clothe itself?" 

"Yes. She said ships would bring all that the wives 
wanted, and be glad to exchange fine things — finer than any- 
thing she could afford to buy out of her wages — for potatoes, 
cocoanuts, poultry, and other food." 

"It looks as if the women were being made fools of," said I. 

"I don't think so," she answered. "Ships do barter for 
food, don't they?" 

"Yes. But the vessels likely to touch at Brigstock's island 
won't be freighted with clothes for women. There are no 
silks and satins to be found in whalers' holds." 

•'Perhaps Brigstock says to them, 'Why take ye thought for 
raiment?' and refers them to the lilies," said she. 

"They'll help themselves, lilies or no lilies, to a good sup- 
ply out of the stores aboard us. There's stuff enough to equip 
them until they sicken and depart." 
'How'U they get away?" 
They'll be fetched, I fancy." 

Well," said she, "I thought them mad at first, but I now 
see some glimmer of sanity in the project. The girl Dobree 
put her case thus: 'I'm a seamstress; I was born at Notting- 
ham, and am an orphan; and for a long while I've tried to 


THE HORN, 271 

keep myself alive with my needle, but I assure you, Miss 
Darnley, if I was not here I should be in the workhouse, or in 
my grave dead of want. How do I know what's going to 
happen to me in Australia? Mr. Brigstock's scheme mayn't 
prove a certainty for us women, but it might lead to better 
things.' " 

"What better things?" I asked. 

"She's romantic, like others of her class. 'When you're 
drowning,' says she, 'you're not particular what's thrown you!' 
Those were her words. 'Brigstock's scheme is good enough 
to float by,' she said." 

"She hopes to wash on to a land where there '11 be some 
sunshine of life for her and the like of her, poor thing," said I. 

"I don't think any of them suppose Brigstock's scheme will 
last. But it's a change, a toy, a novelty. Remember who 
and what they are. The sailors are their equals, and good 
enough for them. Wouldn't they keep company, as it's 
called, with those seamen on shore? Suppose they were in 
service, and the men hung about to take them for walks of a 
Sunday? At Bristol three servants who had been in my 
father's service married sailors." 

"Aye, but they left them at home; they didn't carry them to 
an island." 

"I declare," said she, so governed by some instant impulse 
of feeling that her fine speaking eyes glowed as with passion, 
"if I had been born with the nature and instincts of those 
women, used all my life to the work they are accustomed to, 
I'd do as they're doing." 

"Take a sailor and live on an island with him?" said I. 

" Yes. Anything to get out of the rut of life; anything for 
a walk of one's own, though but a footpath that wide," she 
exclaimed, holding up her fingers, "so as not to be bespattered 
with the mud of the passing carriages, or elbowed into the 
gutter to make way for Mr. and Mrs. Snob." 

"Aye, but imagine Brigstock your husband by virtue of his 
own recitation of the marriage service. ' * 

'Hannah Cobbs is very pleased with him." 
He is good enough for Hannah. ' ' 

"And that's what I mean. Let me be a Kate Davis, and 
I'll thank you for Jackson as a beau." 

"If I consent to join the Brigstock lot, will you be my 
partner, Kate?" 

"You asked me that question before." 

"Will you?" 



''Your convictions want courage. You admire this island 
project, and refuse to be of it." 

"It is a good project for those who have formed and are 
carrying it out," said she warmly. "Those girls guess that 
domestic service in the colonies is pretty much as it is in 
England; scarcely better paid, and with all the difference of 
thousands of miles of ocean rolling between them and home. 
What have they to look forward to?" she exclaimed bitterly. 
"Indeed, what are the hopes of the most sanguine among us? 
Their best chance lies in getting husbands in Australia, and 
those pardners, as you call them, say, 'We'll not wait. Here 
are men willing to take us. They are respectable sailors, bent 
upon making a home for themselves in the South Pacific!' 
They are right," she cried with a flashing eye. "I'd do it if I 
were they. But gentility is restrictive and depressing. It 
prohibits audacity. So I shall be starting as a governess when 
those women, whose choice makes you wonder, are living in 
pretty bamboo cottages, according to Bull, everyone with a 
charming garden of flowers to herself, her own mistress, one 
of those few lucky ones of life who 'having nothing yet hath 
all.' " 

Her temper and advocacy amused and surprised me. But 
though our talk left some features of \he Brigstock enterprise 
vague, I was at all events convinced that if the crew carried 
out their project, the girls of their choice would stick to 

We doubled the Horn in the midwinter of the southern 
hemisphere; but, though we met with some heavy weather, the 
passage did not prove so formidable as I had feared. We 
struck 58^ S., and had eighteen hours of darkness a day, with 
spears of ice at the catheads and plunging bowsprit, and more 
than once the green, transparent shadow of an island of ice 
close aboard, looming through some brooding thickness of 
polar frost, and motionless on swelling hills of black water. 

One narrow escape we had. It was at high noon, though I 
have known some moonless midnights in England lighter. 
The air was dark with snow. The figure of the lookout on 
the forecastle, gleaming like glass in his oilskins, was scarcely 
distinguishable from the poop. We were forging through it 
under double-reefed topsails and a reefed foresail, just looking 
up to our course; the dark head sea came slinging along out 
of the flying thickness of snow in sheets of steel; the surge 
smote the weather-bow in hurricane shocks, and the soft gloom 
of the whirling whiteness trembled with a frequent flash of 
clouds of foam filled with darts and daggers of ice which 

THE HORN. 273 

shrieked across the deck as they fled into the smoky thickness 
of snow and spray to leeward. 

I stood beside the wheel, turning an eager eye from bow to 
bow. Prentice was at the helm; Harding, swathed to his heels 
in painted clothes and sea helmet, stood at the brass rail for- 
ward grasping it. A true picture of Antarctic desolation, that! 
The bands of topsails came and went in dull, ghastly glares as 
the ship swept into the olive dark hollow, leaping again in the 
next breath till the very coppered bilge of her ruddily streaked 
the foam of the rushing surge. The scupper holes hissed their 
fountains, and it was sometimes up to a man's waist down 
to leeward. 

On a sudden I was sensible of a keener edge in the wind, a 
wonderful new sharpness of bite that was like laying your 
cheek against iron. Harding at the break of the poop looked 
round at that moment. 

"Forecastle, there," I shouted, advancing some paces. 
"Keep a bright lookout for ice." 

As the words left my lips a loud voice answered me: 

"Ice right ahead, sir." 

"Hard up!" I yelled. 

Prentice was at the wheel; I sprang to his assistance. The 
ship paid off nobly, swinging round in a stately sinking, upon 
the slope of a great green sea; and, to the right of her slowly 
circling jib boom, there sprang out of the hoary, blinding chaos 
a monstrous mass of ice, an island that looked the more awful 
and vast because of the snow and spray, and flying shadows of 
inky vapor which nearly concealed it; glances only on high of 
hard white crystal projections, abrupt ascending walls, spear- 
headed pinnacles, shapes as of huge couchant beasts seen and 
lost in the wink of an eye in the wool-white whirl. The mass 
was full of thunder, which smote the ear in hollow, booming 
shocks; I guessed the weight of the sea by that noise and by 
the mountain of spray which roared backward from the frozen, 
lifeless, motionless mass. 

In a minute it was gone in the smother, but such a peril we 
had no mind to meet again; in another two minutes we should 
haye been into it, stem-on, the ship telescoping to amidships, 
and the whole life of her going out in one great shriek ; so, till 
the weather cleared, we furled everything but the main topsail 
and fore topmast staysail, backing the fore and after yards, 
and left the rest to the vessel. 

Yet, though on the whole our doubling of the Horn proved 
a lighter business than I had dared count on at that season of 
the year, it made a bad time for the girls. As before in heavy 


weather, so now I brought them into the cuddy, where they 
lived for the most part, sleeping on deck and in the cabins, 
though some twenty of them continued to occupy the 'tween 
decks. Once again I surrendered my berth at night to Kate 
Darnley and five others. 

I got but little sleep; my anxieties were very heavy; I was 
the sole navigator aboard; the whole safety of the ship 
depended upon me ; and, for lack of officers to help prop the 
burden, the weight was crushing during those black, bitter 
days of the Horn. 

The weather and the cold miserably subdued and depressed 
the women. I see them now in my mind's eye sitting in rows 
in the cuddy, hugging their wraps about them, seldom speak- 
ing, staring at one another, scarce venturing to stir, so desper- 
ate was the plunging of the ship. For three days they fared 
vilely, as indeed did we all. Wambold came floundering aft 
and told me he must give up. He could not keep his fire 
alight, and the galley was uninhabitable. So in those days we 
got nothing hot to eat or drink. 

Once Alice Perry was seized with a shrieking fit of temper. 
She caught sight of me as I came down the companion into 
the cuddy, and in a yelling voice asked me if I thought it right 
that * *us poor gells should be brought into these 'owling frozen 
parts of the world to be starved first, and then drownded by 
being busted against icebergs, when the ship's proper road lay 
the other way, where there was plenty of sun and smooth 
water? If it wasn't for Brigstock and Cobbs, they'd all be in 
Australia by this time." 

She then let fly at Miss Cobbs, who sat nearly opposite, her 
face pinched by the cold into a few pale blue lines betwixt 
her sausage curls, the back of her bonnet crushed by being 
repeatedly knocked against the bulkheads, hugging herself 
to the heart under a plaid shawl, over which Brigstock 
had thrown a fur-lined coat belonging to Latto, late second 

The girl's passion made a hellish picture; her rage worked 
in throes, and blackened and convulsed her; her screams rang 
through the cuddy like the piping of the boatswain's whistle 
she was now and had for some time been wearing. And her 
fury was contagious; fifteen or twenty women, one after 
another, and then all together, turned the hoses of their tongues 
on Miss Cobbs, and played her with the boiling water of their 
wrath. Kate and two others were reading in my cabin; I 
stood looking on a minute or two, and then went on deck to 
wait till the uproar ended. When I returned d number of the 

MY OATH. 275 

women were crying; and Miss Cobbs sat bolt upright, Jooking 
as if she had been frozen to death. 

Thus we rounded the Horn, though not always thus ; and 
Tuesday, June 20th, found the Earl of Leicester's latitude 55® 
S., and her longitude 83*^ W. 



It was a Monday morning. A light breeze, soft and sweet, 
blew off the starboard quarter; lower and topmast studding 
sails had been set to hold it, and the ship, with stirless wings 
and on a level keel, and over a wide majestic heave of swell, 
leisurely rippled onward, the sparkling blue of the Pacific 
around, and over her gilded trucks a clear heaven of azure 
dazzling with the cloudless morning light. 

Two girls clothed in male attire were at the ship's wheel; 
beside them stood Sampson, whose **trick** it was; he had 
relinquished the spokes, but remained by my orders to con 
and instruct. Five other girls, dressed as men, walked here 
and there about the poop; they and those who were steering 
were my helmsmen — seveii in all, namely Alice Perry, Charlotte 
Brown, Flo' Lewis, Katherine Hale, Ellen Clark, Mary 
Barker, and Susannah Corbin; their ages ranging from thirty 
to, in the case of Mary Barker, eighteen. 

These girls being dressed as they were, I kept aft, though 
five of them were done with the helm, and the others would 
quit it shortly. But the truth is, though the crew were civil 
and even distant to the women who were not their "pardners," 
they showed a disposition to chaff and take liberties when the 
girls were clad as men. Moreover, the cuddy was my crews* 
dressing room; there they kept their male clothes, and there 
they shifted themselves before coming on deck, and after 
going below. 

The ship was gay that morning with the crowd that filled 
her decks; all warm apparel had been stowed away; the Horn 
was far astern; the temperature that of a warm English June, 
kept cool with the ceaseless refreshment of the salt breast of 
ocean ; and the women were dressed in cottons and colors once 
more, in feathered hats and bonnets and serge, and there was 
a plentiful twinkle of Brummagen splendor. 

The galley chimney was smoking bravely; they had killed a 
pig, and there was to be a fresh mess at noon. Kate sat in the 


gangway reading aloud to a listening group from a book. 
Over against her to starboard sat Miss Cobbs, in company 
with seven or eight of the "pardners," with whom she talked 
earnestly. Near them stalked Brigstock. He occasionally 
directed a thoughtful look at me when I approached the break 
of the poop, and his air was that of a man who waits. A knot 
of sailors gossiped on the forecastle head; 'hey were in Hard- 
ing's watch, and he had charge; they were, therefore, on duty; 
but, ever since the Horn, the crew had done little or nothing, 
save handling the braces and making and shortening sail. I 
had nothing to say. I was not their captain. Enough for me 
that they continued sober and quiet. 

I leaned over the rail to catch a view of the clock under the 

"It's *arf-past eleven, capt'n," said a woman. 

I thanked her; and, turning to Alice Perry, told her to pipe 
the helmswomen below to shift clothes. She blew a shrill 
turn very neatly and quick; a pair of gold earrings would not 
have pleased her better as a gift than had the silver toy she 
piped on, that dangled in sight upon her breast, no matter 
how she was attired. 

At once the two girls at the wheel abandoned it to Samp- 
son, and the seven of them chatting and laughing danced below. 

I followed to fetch my sextant. All the while I worked at 
the sun Brigstock paced the waist, with a frequent dull lift of 
his eyes at me. What does he want? thought I; his glances, 
his grave, formal stumping to and fro in one place made me 

After making eight bells I went below. By this time the 
girls had changed and were gone. Gouger was lazily prepar- 
ing the table for dinner. I passed into my cabin and worked 
out the latitude; and, just when I was done, a knock sounded, ^ 
and Brigstock asked leave to enter. He walked in slowly; his 
manner was awkward and constrained; he held a fur cap in 
his hands, and twisted it while he brought his dark, peculiar 
eyes to bear upon my face as though it gave him trouble to 
look straight. 

*' Jer mind letting me know where the ship is to-day?* ' said he. 

I was sure more was signified by his presence than that ques- 
tion implied; but, controlling my uneasiness by swift consider- 
ation that, until the island was in sight, the crew were as help- 
less as though the vessel was in the middle of a shoreless ocean, 
I gave him the latitude and pointed to the ship's position on 
the chart. 

He put his magnifying spectacles on, and stooped bis nosg 


MY OATH. 277 

to the sheet, and after a pause said, "It*s a-drawing pretty 

'•It is." 

**How fur off jer reckon it, capt'n?" said he, with his eyes 
upon the chart. 

"With anything of a wind, the island should be in sight 
to-morrow afternoon." 

He continued to gaze; then, with movements of his hand 
which suggested agitation to my uneasy mood, he removed 
his spectacles. 

"Capt'n," said he in his level, lenten voice. "Jer've 
acted like a gentleman, and we're obliged to jer." 

I responded with a sharp nod. 

"And I think jer'll agree, capt'n, that the crew have testi- 
fied their sense of the hobligations they're under by acting 
like men. * * 

They've acted well." 

They've tried ter. I've bin a-watching of 'em closdy all 
along. 'Ticularly Bull. One black tooth '11 spoil a set of 
white *uns. If one fiddle string's wrong jer '11 find it a job to 
play all the tunes jer want. I'm satisfied myself with the 
men, from Bull down; and, all things considered, I allow I've a 
right ter. Now, sir, I hope jer '11 not be offended at what I'm 
a-going to say." 

"Say on," I exclaimed, plunging my hands in my pockets, 
and holding the deck, so to speak, with a firmer grip of foot. 

"Jer've acted like a gentleman — I dorn't want to give no 
offense. ' ' 

"I've obeyed the Scriptural injunction," said I, looking at 
him. " 'Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with 
him twain ! ' I ' ve done that. ' ' 

"And more," said he earnestly, as though impressed by my 
quotation. "Capt'n, what us men wants jer to do is to take 

"An oath?" 

"A hoath," he repeated; "like to what you read out to us, 
only different, in the presence of all hands and the females, 
as ourn was." 

"You're deuced long winded, Mr. Brigstock," cried I, in 
a torment of anxiety that was fast heating me into a passion. 
What do you want me to take an oath about?" 

That if, under Providence," said he, in his deepest, most 
deliberate utterance, "jer '11 be lucky enough to carry this ship 
to i)ort, jer '11 not tell the situation of the island jer '11 leave 
us on." 


I fetched a deep breath of sudden relief; was that all? 

I stood thinking, with my eyes fastened upon him, then 

"Consider. Suppose your partners repent their decision, 
you, as much as they — the whole of you all round — might find 
reason to be grateful that an expedition was sent in search of 

"No!" he roared; then, checking himself with a self-control 
I envied in him, so quickly it worked, so powerful was the will 
it disclosed, he exclaimed: "No good starting constitootions 
to be broke up by hexpeditions. 1*11 be square with jer, 
capt'n. The long an' short's this: Me and the others have 
had plenty of time to talk things over, and we've decided to 
help ourselves to a little more of what this vessel contains than 
we originally proposed. We reckon we've got a right to the 
goods — what Bull calls a line upon 'em; a legal tarm, signifying 
a right to property where money's owed. Money's owed to us 
as wages, likewise on salvage. What would ha' become of 
this ship but for us? We also allow — it's Bull's reasoning — 
that we've got a claim for the saving of life. Why shouldn't 
we pay ourselves out of what's under foot, seeing but for us 
the whole biling, women and all, might have been at the bot- 
tom long ago?" 


"But it's more'n likely our claims won't be allowed by them 
as owns the cargo. Therefore we're for asking jer to take a 
hoath not to reveal the island jer '11 leave us upon." 

"You had better compel va^y 

"Jer *11 have ter, anyhow," said he with a grave smile. 

"How much do you mean to take?" 

He again put on his glasses, and pulled out a piece of paper 
— the fly leaf of a book — on which he mused a minute, then 

"We calculate our want '11 amount to about this; and he 
read: 'Longboat and one quarter-boat, with all necessary 
gear; such hagricultural implements as we may choose; cloth- 
ing to go on with; spare sails for tents; beddin'; carpenter's 
tool chest; chest of small arms, and the hammunition we may 
meet with; the timepiece, and the ship's bell; provisions.' 
Other hitems '11 consist of sailmakers' stores, along with a 
spare compass, and the likes of that." 

I listened with exultation. This catalogue made the islaBd 
scheme more real than ever I had been able'to find it since 
they stole me. Then there was the feeling of relief too, for 
his looks when he stumped the deck, and his coming to me 

AfV OATH, 279 

with his solemn face and agitated gesture, had frightened me 

I had time to compose my countenance while he pulled off 
his glasses and pocketed the paper. I then told him I consid- 
ered his list moderate and reasonable; it would matter nothing 
to me, I said, if they stripped the ship, so long as they left 
enough to eat and drink in her to carry up seventy or eighty 
souls to port; only the more they took the likelier the chance 
of their being searched for, oath or no oath. If they helped 
themselves in reason, under the circumstances nothing might 
be said. 

He answered he agreed with that, and no more would be 
taken than was needful to keep twenty-six people going until 
they had had time to look round. 

•'You talk of twenty-six," said I. "Will no others than 
your pardners accompany you?" 

** We don't want no others. I've thought it over. Others 
without husbands might lead to trouble. We're opposed to 
all chitty-chatty as the French tarm it, and scandal. No use 
a-laying on gas if you don't want to burn it. Will jer take 
thelioath, sir?" 

"Yes; and. I wish it administered as you propose, that there 
may be plenty to say I took it." 

"This afternoon?" 

"Eight bells." 

"Aye, aye, sir." 

He was going. "Stop," said I; "if Bull's island's to your 
liking you'll go ashore?" 

"As prompt as possible. We're not for keeping the women 
washing about." 

"If it don't satisfy you?" 

"Then I'm sorry to say we shall have to ask jer to keep 
all on till we can find what we want," he answered. 

Though there was a little damp to my hopes in this answer 
of his, seeing the possibilities it gave one a glimpse of, yet 
never since I had sailed from Bristol had I been in such spirits. 
I whistled; my heart danced; I could have capered about the 
cabin. It was like kicking off a heavy pair of boots when 
you're swimming. There was distance to be measured — I 
might be drowned ; but oh, the momentary thrill of lightness 
and buoyancy, and the joy of the new courage, of the larger 

Day after day and night after night for weeks had my mind 
been strained by suspense. Would they abandon the island 
scheme? Would they deliver up the ship to me? Would any- 


thing happen fatal to my own consuming desire — a very 
passion of ambition it was — to carry the vessel and her crowd 
of poor passengers single-handed to Sydney? I'll not sham 
for a moment that it was all humanity. Certainly I hoped for 
a considerable reward, both in command and money, but I 
was also very much in earnest in wishing with mine own single 
hand, so to speak, to deliver all these poor women from the 
dire peril they had been in since that hour of Rolt's death and 
the captain's blindness; and desire was also sharpened by 
vanity. I was a young fellow, and liked to believe I should 
be talked of. Often I'd smile when I thought of myself as 
being looked at as the young skipper who had carried an 
emigrant ship to Sydney without a crew, worked by females 

I don't fancy it had been realized aboard how close the 
ship was to the place assigned by Bull to his island, till Brig- 
stock took the news forward that day after leaving me. He 
kept with the men and did not join me at table. When I went 
on deck after dinner, I observed in the general bearing the 
impression the news had produced. A sort of quiet hung 
upon the ship; the women talked low; the familiar laugh, the 
familiar high-pitched note was rare; a number of the girls 
dreamily overhung the bulwark rails with their eyes on the sea, 
as though expecting a sight of land ; I saw Bull with a piece of 
chalk drawing pictures on the deck abreast of the galley, some 
sailors and women watching. I also saw Brigstock carefully 
examining the longboat. If they took that boat and another, 
they'd still leave the ship with two and the gig, which they 
had hoisted after taking me out of her. 

Kate came up out of the 'tween decks, and seeing me stood 
gazing wistfully. I called to her to come up, and she 
promptly arrived. 

"What do they want us all to assemble on deck for?" said 

"Has the order gone forth?" 

"Miss Cobbs has made the rounds asking us all to collect as 
on the occasion when you administered an oath to the men. 
She won't say what for. Perhaps she doesn't know. We live 
in a continual state of dread." 

"The crew intend to make me take an oath." 

"You?" she cried, starting, opening her eyes, halting in an 
arrest of sudden sincere fright, which whitened through her 
face till she looked as sallow as a nun. 

"Don't be afraid. They wish " and I told her what 

the crew wanted. 

MY OATH, 281 


Are you sure that's all?" she exclaimed. 

•'That's all." 

*'Well," she said, letting her breath go in a great sigh. **I 
had made up my mind, if they sent you away, to go with 

"I'd have taken you." 

**I couldn't go on as we are," she cried, "even with you in 
command. But to be left with the crew ! If they sent you 
away, I'd go with you," and she set her teeth. 

It was not long, however, before I made her mind easy; 
and we had a good earnest talk about the discipline I meant 
to put in force when the men were gone. 

All this while the ship rippled through it, under one unvary- 
ing pressure of soft, sweet wind; aloft everything motion- 
less, of a moonlike whiteness against the blue, and a streak of 
water alongside bubbling brooklike into a narrow wake of 
feathers and jewels of foam. It was a perfect South Pacific 
day, the lazy whaler's ideal of weather, when there's nothing 
to be done but lounge over the windlass-end, pipe in mouth, 
and let the warm wind waft you. 

By four o'clock the women had gathered on the quartjcr- 
deck on either hand the capstan, as on that day when I swore 
the crew. I kept Kate by my side. The girls did not seem 
to know why they had been asked to come together again, 
and their faces were constantly rounding my way when I 
approached the break of the poop, walking with Kate. 

Someone struck eight bells. Brigstock then came forward 
bearing his big Bible, and the sailors walked in his wake as in 
a funeral procession^ I observed relish of this sort of thing 
strong in Brigstock's long face; he loved the ceremony in which 
he prominently figured. He came to the capstan and put his 
Bible upon it, and the men drew together in a group; a great 
crowd of women on either hand them, most of them staring 
up at me with looks of perplexity and fear. 

I kept on the poop till I saw they were waiting, then leisurely 
and with all the dignity of deportment I could command, went 
down the ladder and advanced to the capstan. 

"What's a-going to happen?" cried Alice Perry, in one of 
her wild, screaming, ringing notes, leaping from the starboard 
crowd like a bent band of steel released, her eyes on fire and 
fury in her face. "What are you going to do to the capt'n? 
S'elp me God! if there's e'er a one as lays a finger on 'im, 
I'll knife the devil, though you kills me next minute;" and, so 
shrieking, she whipped a table knife out of her pocket. 

Miss Cobbs screamed. 


"If yer don't fling that down " exclaimed the seaman 

Luddy, rounding upon the girl with a ferocious scowl. 

I was at her side even as the man was speaking. 

* *Give that to me/* said I. "They don't mean to hurt me!" 

"I'll be sure of that first," she screamed, wrestling, and the 
knife glanced above her head, with my hand upon her wrist. 

"Girls! girls! shall we let the men send our capt'n away for 
us to be alone with 'em, now he's done all the work and the 
island's close?" howled Susannah Corbin; and in a trice, 
amid cries as wild as the whistling of a gale, thirty or forty 
women came in a rush around me, encompassing Perry's and 
my struggling figure. 

"They shan't touch you!" 

"We'll kill 'em sooner!" 

"We don't care what happens — we'll not be alone with 'em." 

"You're capt'n, and if you're sent away there '11 be no one 
to look to. " 

These, and fifty like cries yelped, and yelled, and screamed 
all together, combined into a continuous stream of ear-piercing, 
soul-confounding noise beyond all art of words to convey. 
The knife fell from Alice Perry's hand. I stooped, got it, 
and flung it overboard. 

"Silence!" I roared. "Silence, I beg, while I speak"; 
and, putting my hand on Perry's shoulder, rearing my stature 
to the topmost of its inches, to get command with my eyes, I 
bawled out that all was right — the men desired me to take an 
oath — no mischief, nothing but kindness was intended; and, 
by virtue of superior lungs, I shouted the women into silence. 
Then with coaxing gestures and repeated assurances that all 
was well, delivered in tones that might have been a lover's, I 
got Perry back again into her place, and with her came others, 
so that, in eight or ten minutes I had cleared the deck; that 
is, got the people grouped as before, and once more stepped 
to the capstan. 

But I own I was deeply agitated. I trembled, and knew 
myself pale. Indeed, something bloody and terrific in ocean 
tragedy outside all record of marine horrors had been averted 
by the very dark of one's finger nail, as they say ; in another 
minute Perry's knife would have been in some man's heart, 
and then, oh, my God ! I feel sick when I think of it, after all 
these years: the sudden loosing of forecastle passions, of 
passions wilder and ghastlier still in the thirteen chosen females 
fighting on the men's side against the crowd of women! 

Brigstock was as pale as any blank page in his Bible: the 
seamen glanced threateningly about, as though fearful of foul 

MY OATH, 283 

play, hidden knives, sudden murderous surprise. The hush 
of at least a minute that followed was extraordinarily impress- 
ive — not a whisper! nothing but the angry breathing of the 
seamen standing near me^ and the noise of the rippling waters. 

Then Brigstock, sucking in a big breath, exclaimed in a voice 
which betokened that his perception of our escape from a 
business that might have proved a massacre was as acute at 
all events as mine, said: 

**Captain Morgan, yer know no harm's meant." 

**None. Now recite the oath." 

In a broken voice, his breathing labored, after putting the 
Bible into my hand, he dictated an oath un grammatical, 
pompous, and confused; in phrase and consfruction to the 
verge of unintelligibility. I was to swear I would not reveal 
the whereabouts of the island occupied by the settlers; also 
that I would not make any entries in the log-book calculated 
to furnish a clew; and the terms of the oath granted Mr. Brig- 
stock permission to tear out of the said log-book as many pages 
as he and the crew might think proper. 

Bareheaded, I kissed the Bible with all proper reverence, and 
then, addressing the women, exclaimed: 

"Ladies, you have heard me swear not to reveal the place 
where Mr. Brigstock and his party go ashore. Though no 
threats have been used, I am glad to say Mr. Brigstock will tell 
you it was his and the crew's intention to compel me to take this 
oath. That's so, I think," said I, looking round to Brigstock. 

**We shouldn't have left the ship without it," he answered. 
"We've a right to warrant ourselves against intrusion till such 
times as the settlement shall become too flourishing to be 
meddled with. It was the case with Pitcairn ; had a man o* 
war lighted on the mutineers, she'd ha' taken 'em. Long 
arter the trouble a man of war fell in with the island, and 
found the settlers* descendants with one original mutineer 
among 'em, old Adams. They left him to carry on his duties 
as father and magistrate, and sailed away impressed and 
hedified by what they'd seen. That's how I mean it to be with 
us," said he, with a glance at the crew. **Not that we're 
mutineers, God knows; but the little we're a-going to take 
might lead to difficulties there's no call to provoke." 

"Very well. It's now understood by all these witnesses," 
said I, with a flourish of my hand to right and left, **that I've 
taken an oath, under compulsion, not to betray the secret of 
your whereabouts." 

I pronounced these words clearly and with emphasis; then 
lifting my hat, went into the cuddy. 



bull's island. 

No reference was made by Brigstock or Harding to the 
scene on the quarter-deck. I was afraid the crew would fasten 
upon Perry, lock her up, in some fashion punish her. Afraid, 
I say, because in that case I must have stood forward with the 
prospect of bringing about vile, heavy, tragic trouble on the 
very eve of the men's leaving us. Nothing was said or 
done, at least in my hearing or seeing. For the rest of 
the day I kept my eye on Perry when she was on deck, 
but never saw that she was addressed or interfered with by 
the crew. 

Indeed, the prospect of the island showing next day, lay 
like an influence upon the ship; the sailors lounged on the 
forecastle with their partners, gazing ahead; Brigstock was 
restless, coming again and again to the compass, looking 
round at the sea, going forward, and talking with the men ; 
sometimes in passages of silence I'd hear his deep voice thrill- 
ing near the galley. 

I need not say my own anxiety was heavy and wearing to 
the last degree. I was in seas almost new to me, sole navi- 
gator of the ship; in an ocean full of islands and shoals, many 
at that time uncharted. Then, had Bull's island existence in 
the place he named it as lying in — seven and twenty leagues 
east of Hercules Island? Or, supposing the island there, yet 
it might not suit the men either, in which case I was to find 
one to please them. And how long was that to take — with 
the anxieties of a perilous navigation attending the quest, a 
hundred lives in the vessel, and vicious threats in looks, 
deportment, and speech; of further delay, exasperating the 
women into behavior that might make a hell of the craft? 

But to proceed: the afternoon passed quietly under the 
subduing influence of the general expectation. The second 
dog watch was one of ruddy splendor; the heavens of a burn- 
ing gold westward, and the sea streaming and sheeting in 
sapphire out of the east, winding into gold upon the horizon 
as it swept to the setting sun, under which it trembled, glori- 
ous as the effulgence it mirrored. The breeze of the day still 
blew, soft and sweet as the air of the seashore where the 
smell of brine blends with the scent of orchard and meadow; 
and the ship, with wings of studding sail stretching far beyond 
the yardarms, floated northwest with tho sunset before eight 


bells, dimming on the port bow, and the sky darkened into 
starlight on the quarter. 

Luckily I could count upon a bright moon by ten. Before 
it fell night-dark, I ordered the studding sails to be hauled 
down and sail shortened to the main topgallant sail, leaving the 
mainsail to hang through the quiet night in the festooning grip 
of its gear. When this was done, the hour was about two 
bells, nine o'clock. The ship sat upon the sea like a shadowy 
fabric of alabaster; a long sighing sort of swell ran through 
the dark ocean in wide breathings abeam, and the arc of the 
ship's roll was scarce four times the diameter of the moon. 
Until she rose to pale the firmament I had never before beheui 
a grander play of meteors. They sailed over our trucks like 
a legion of fireflies running athwart one another's hawse; the 
stars sparkled placidly and blandly above them, and, at our 
mizzen peak end, poised there as though by the signal halliards, 
hung that (vastly over-estimated jewel of the south, the 
Southern Cross. 

Although I had no reason to suppose we were near any shoal 
or land invisible by such starshine as we had, or by such 
moonshine as was to come, I nevertheless told Brigstock to 
get a cast of the lead from time to time. I had heard of low 
coral islands in these seas, like a fleet at anchor, through your 
seeing nothing but trees, which come and go as the vessel 
pitches. To be sure there was no magic in the lead to provide 
against running foul of some steep-to concern of that sort, and 
still I ordered Brigstock to get a cast from time to time. 

I was also careful to keep the log going. Under reduced 
canvas at nine o'clock the ship was passing through the water 
at five and a half; the green fire burned in the holes of her 
furrow, and very steady on our quarter, within pistol-shot, 
back fin clear, floated at the exact speed of the ship a large 
phosphorescent shape of shark — big as a grampus he looked 
in his husk of luminous mist. 

The women hung about the decks till a late hour this night; 
they were too restless and excited to turn in at the usual hour. 
I called a number of them up to look at the wonderful picture 
the shark made. Among these were many of my crew ; and 
they liked this part of the deck so well I would not suffer 
Mr. Harding, who had charge till midnight, to order them off. 

When the moon rose and shone white, making ivory of the 
decks, with the shadows of the rigging in every trance betwixt 
the rolls looking like ebony inlaid, it was the strangest thing 
to see the crowds of women moving about the main deck; their 
clothes were tinged with silver, and their shapes seemed unsub- 


stahtial; the only solid part seemed their ink-black shadows. 
From time to time, at considerable intervals, a voice sang 
hoarsely in the fore chains, and went to pieces in twenty echoes 

I put Kate's arm under mine for a turn, and kept her at my 
side for an hour. I was feverish with thought, and it did me 
good to talk. Was the island where Bull said it was? Would 
the men be satisfied with it? Would the women shrink at the 
last moment? Would there be recoil in any of the crew when 
the spot, repellent in desolation in proportion as it was appeal- 
inji in beauty, hung within an easy pull? I could talk about 
nfthing else. 

Somewhere about five bells, while I was looking at the wake 
of light under the moon — a broad, trembling, glorious breast 
it was — I saw a ship swim into it about four miles off; a black, 
lean shape, the sharp of her sails being at us. She was prob- 
ably a whaler. It was the first vessel we had sighted for 
weeks, and I looked at her with as much interest as though I 
had never seen a ship before. The sight of her strangely 
accentuated the thought of land being near. 

Brigstock came up from the main deck and solemnly pointed 
to her, while she was still under the moon. 

**Yes," said I, "I've been watching her. Pity she's not 
within hail. She might be able to give me some news of 
Bull's island." 

**We'd rather not ask her for any noose," he said, his long 
face gray in the silver light. * 'She'd be putting two an' two 
together, and giving in the report jer on jer oath to keep 
bark, capt'n." 

**Well, you may be right," said I. "Still, I should have 
been glad to compare time, and get a hint or two." 

"There's no fear of your navigation a-going wrong," said 
he, smiling. "I only wish /had jer eddication and science. 
But may I ask, sir, if jer still detarmined to work this ship 
with women when we leave her?" 

I've thought it over, and dom't see how it's to answer." 
Remove your thirteen partners, " said I, pointing to the 
women who lingered on the poop and main deck, "and still 
that crowd's but a little smaller. Now consider. I'm aft 
here as the only officer, unarmed and helpless. It's such 
another night as this, and in, or on, that forecastle there are 
eight or ten fellows shipped, no matter how. Something hap- 
pens — there are ruffians among them; one scoundrel there must 
be; show me a ship's fo'c's'le without him. Why, Mr. Brig- 

1 1' 


Stock, you don't want much imagination to see what I'm 
driving at. With you on board, and those twelve or thirteen 
fellows yonder tractable and quiet under you, all's well. But 
when you and your party are gone, I'm the only man in all 
the oceans of this world who's going to carry this ship to port." 

He stood silent in meditation, looking along the decks. 

**Capt*n," said he, "putting it as jer have, I allow you're 

I was up and about all night. ' The lead was kept going, 
but at long intervals. The breeze blew with a wonderful soft 
steadiness; never so much as a puff of vapor soiled the starry 
sky. It was an exquisite night indeed; a marvelous sweet 
climate. There was the fragrance of the moon lily in it ; and 
often I'd fancy a pleasant scent in the wind as though land 
were near. 

Bull, who had the wheel from twelve to two, asked me if it 
was strange that the natives in those parts of the great ocean 
found a bamboo house and a suit of tappa shelter and cloth- 
ing enough all the year round ? Upon my word, when I looked 
up at the deep, sparkling sky, with the moonlight melting and 
steeping to the furthest reaches, and tasted the soft air, and 
put before my mind's eye such another island as Bull had 
sketched, and then reflected upon the sort of homes and lives 
such women as Kate Davis and Sarah Salmon and others were 
fresh from, the yearly round of dull hard work they would 
have entered upon in Australia, I couldn't help seeing some 
wisdom in Brigstock's scheme, and its acceptance by the 
females. It would be their own fault if in time the settlers 
did not flourish as a community; enjoying full liberty, living 
under laws of their own making, good for their peculiar and 
particular state, nurtured by a bountiful mother — unchallenged 
lords and ladies of the isle that fed and clothed them. 

I left the deck at dawn. Nothing was then in sight. I had 
scanned the sealine eagerly, while it swept black against the 
lilac of daybreak ere sunrise flashed it into blue. I was worn 
out with anxiety, expectation, and want of sleep, and lay down 
fully clothed in my cabin for an off-shore spell of twenty min- 
utes. I slept a little more than an hour, and was then 

''What is it?" 

''There's land right ahead, sir," said Brigstock, holding 
the door open. 


I jumped for the telescope, and was on deck in a minute. 
About two points on the port bow, the wind still blowing over 


the starboard quarter, was the shadow of land. I leveled the 
glass at it. The lenses made a firm blue heap of the shadow. 
It was land, and no deceit of cloud. 

"Make sail on the ship, Mr. Brigstock. Heap it on her," 
said I. 

Royals and topgallant sails were set, studding sails run aloft; 
the breeze was gushing with a trade wind's steadiness; the 
ocean floated like a lake upon its own long-drawn cradling 
breathings. We hove the log and found the speed six. 

"In another hour Bull will be able to tell us if that's his 
island,'* said I to Brigstock. 

When news that land was in sight got below, the women 
sprang from their beds, dressed themselves in a fury of hurry 
and excitement, and rushed on deck as though to some loud 
and fearful summons. It was the first bit of land they had 
seen for two months ; and they crowded on to the forecastle, 
thirstily staring and crying out and exclaiming in notes like a 
noise of monkeys and parrots. They made a difficulty in 
getting breakfast ; some of the mess girls refused to leave the 
deck to carry the tea and cocoa below. All the sensations and 
passions of the voyage might have been packed into this time 
of waiting, while the ship blew leisurely onward, and the land 
hardened and enlarged, changing from airy blue into silvery 

It was shortly after ten that, spying Bull on the fo'c's'le, I 
called him. 

"Take this glass," said I, "and tell me if that land there is 
your island?" 

He put the tubes upon the rail and knelt. Expectation was 
now at its highest pitch. The quarter-deck was a surface of 
pale faces staring up at us, that is, at me, Brigstock, and 
Harding, and at Bull kneeling and looking. In a transport 
of impatience, Brigstock called out: 

"Can't yer make anything of it, Tom?" 

Still Bull looked ; all the fat of him with his three chins 
and horse-rump breadth of shoulder was in that dogged, feed- 
ing gaze, making the very intention that held his eye at the 
telescope as massive in suggestion as something heavy with 
flesh. Still kneeling, he looked up and nodded at Brigstock. 

**It/Vthen!" exclaimed Harding. 

**To the littlest blade of grass upon it, smother me!" 
answered Bull, and he got upon his feet. 

Brigstock pulled off his cap, and looking at me with a twitch 
or two in his lips, his black eyes expressive of astonishment 
and respect, exclaimed; 


"We trusted jer, sir, and jerVe justified our faith. Capt'n, 
in the crew's name I thank jer, and, whether she suits or not," 
and here he pointed to the island, * 'we'll fore and aft be 
always for allowing that it was well done. * ' 

I thought this very handsome of Brigstock, and thanked him 
with a smile, and a careless assurance that a man must be a 
poor navigator not to make land when its situation is known. 
Nevertheless, secretly, I counted this bringing an uncharted 
island right under my bow, in waters unknown to me, no con- 
temptible feat, perhaps not wanting in luck either; for, had 
Bull been out by twenty miles I should have missed the 

**It's Bull's island right enough, mates!" roared Harding 
to the forecastle. 

But there was nothing to cheer. Would the island suit? 
It was that which worked in me now; and I knelt, as Bull had, 
to take for the twentieth time another look at the silver 
green heap. 

Approaching it as we were from the southwest, it was hove 
up by this time into an irregular outline; a block of shelving 
terraced stuff to the left, inland a rise that was scarcely a hill, 
then a long sweep of land going away down into the sea, dis- 
appearing in a tremble of surf. The women were crowding 
the bulwarks again to look; the seamen, with their partners, 
filled the fo'c's'le head with twenty figures; Prentice was at 
the wheel; Brigstock kept aft with me, and sometimes we 
walked, talking, and sometimes we paused to look at the 
growing land. 

By and by I said, "In stun'sails, Mr. Brigstock, and put a 
leadsman in the chains. Also send Bull on to the flying jib 
boom end, and let him keep a bright lookout on the water 

This was done ; the men rushing about eagerly and nimbly. 
I then ordered them to rig the stunsail booms in, and to shorten 
sail down to the main topgallant sail as before, furling everything 
that was clewed up. This work brought us to hard upon 
twelve, which hour I made by an observation of the sun, being 
anxious to fix the island to my satisfaction, in case we should 
be blown away. 

The women got but a poor dinner; in fact, Wambold, in 
the excitement of that time, had forgotten to boil the 'tween 
decks soup and duff, and there was nothing to eat but pork, 
of which, happily, in a lucid interval he had dropped the emi- 
grants' allowance in his coppers. 

Some of the girls wanted to make a trouble of this, Emma 


Marks came up through the hatch with a piece of pork in a tin 
dishy and shrieked up at me: 

"See 'ere! this is all! and Brigstock knows it's forbid! 
Am I to be starved *cause of this messing about after an island, 
which don't concern them as ought to be in Orstralia by this? 
Look how I dine!" yelled the odious black creature; and she 
threw the pork over the rail into the sea. 

I called to Gouger to give the girl something to eat out of 
the pantry; and, to escape the trouble I saw threatened in the 
faces of others, I walked aft. 

Soon after we had come into these seas, that is when we 
had struck the fine weather parallels, the men had got the 
chain cables up, and made all ready with the ground tackle. It 
remained to be seen, however, whether, supposing the island 
was to the taste of the people, it would be safer to lie off under 
command of the helm, than to bring up; and, if the latter, 
whether we should find holding ground. By half past one 
o'clock we were within a mile, with no bottom in reach of 
the lead. 

It was a feast to the sight after our long weeks of brine. 
Perhaps a deeper spirit of beauty than belonged to it went 
into that richly draped and brightly feathered isle out of the 
wonder that the freshness and novelty of it raised in us. It 
showed us a foreshore of three miles as it bore, and ran away 
inland perhaps four or five; it was swollen with undulations 
lifting in glittering billows of verdure to a central elevation of 
about two hundred feet. I saw the gleams of waterfalls like 
sparkling mist. Bull, who stood near me, said that to the 
best of his recollection the great lagoon was to the nor'rard 
round the point. The Pacific comber broken by creeks and 
inlets melted in white flashes upon the whiter dazzle of the 
beach. In some places the vegetation came down thick as a 
wood to where the glistening line of strand ruled it off sharp. 

I turned the telescope in all directions, but saw no habita- 
tion, no sign of life. This was not extraordinary, for in some 
parts down here the natives are migratory; sometimes they are 
driven out by war; more than one island Eden, such as Pit- 
cairn and Norfolk, has been touched at, and found empty of 
human life; others vacant, though with memorials of skilled 
labor and an advanced civilization; but still, while I looked at 
that beautiful coast, I expected at any moment to see a swarm 
of canoes glide like insects from one of the many green and 
shadowed creeks. 

The women gazed fascinated. Many were on the forecastle, 
a crowd along the bulwarks, a number on the poop; they 


hummed in talk with frequent clear cries and sharp calls, one 
to another. The rich scene was a revelation to them ; and I 
suspected that many would be thinking, while they looked, that 
the seamens' partners were not the debased fools they had 
been called. 

When the ship had been brought to a stand, the wind blow- 
ing softly away from the southeast, and the sea rippling silkily 
to the very lift of the opal-hued comber, arching snakelike for 
the shoreward run, Brigstock, with as respectful, composed 
a demeanor as ever he had worn, though you might have 
noticed a little color of triumph and importance in his bearing 
and looks, asked leave to take charge of the going ashore job. 

**Oh, certainly," said I; "do what you like. I hope the 
island will suit you." 

** I think it will," said he in his deep voice, with a glance at it. 

He then called the crew on to the poop, Susannah Corbin 
taking the wheel at my request that the seaman there might 
join the sailors* council. I beckoned Kate from the main 
deck, and walked aft with her that I might not appear to 
attend to what the men said. 

* 'What a beautiful island it is!" Kate exclaimed, her face 
alight with the pleasure the sight gave her. 

**Pray Heaven they decide to take it, that we may be off." 

"What are they going to do?" 

"Jaw a bit," said I. 

"Some of the partners are in transports," she exclaimed. 
"Jess Honeyball, standing near me with Isabella Dobson, cried 
out just now, 'Oh, what a lovely home it will make. Tom 
shall build our house there J* 'And Dick shall build ours 
there ^^ said Dobson." 

"It's happened before," said I, "and is therefore true. 
But it's hard to realize even while it's doing under one's very 
nose;" and then I clenched my fists and worked my arms, 
softly crying, "Lord, if they will but decide upon it, that we 
may be off — that we may be off!" 

The seamen, with Brigstock in the midst of them, talked in 
a close group just forward of the mizzenmast. I was at no 
pains to catch what they said. After a little, three or four 
went off the poop, but they returned in a short time with three 
ships' muskets, four pistols, and three or four cutlasses — no 
doubt all the small arms' chest held; for in those days, as 
perhaps in these, the merchantman went afloat very ill 
equipped for purposes of defense. 

One of the men handed Brigstock a large flask of powder, 
with which, one after another, they loaded their weapons, 


(Observe here that Brigstock knew of the arms' chest and 
ammunition by occupying the berth where they were; I had 
never entered his sleeping place from the hour of setting foot 
in the ship.) They then approached one of the port quarter- 
boats; and, while they were clearing her away, Brigstock came 
along to where I sat with Kate, to tell me he and Bull and six 
seamen were going ashore to thoroughly overhaul the island. 
I told him I'd keep the ship hove-to; should a change of 
weather happen they must return quickly. 

By this time the boat was lowered; it was then three 
o'clock: the afternoon exquisitely fair and serene. Brig- 
stock dropped into the boat by the falls ; their oars rose and 
fell, and away they went, followed by a loud cheering from the 
remaining»sailors and all the partners. 

Choose a good place for us, Isaac!" yelled Emma Grubb. 
Down by the water, Bill, down by the water for me!" 
shrieked Sail Simmonds. ' 'It's to be a cottage by the sea for 
us two." 

"Don't forget your Soosie, Thomas!" cried Bull's partner. 

The fellows, laughing and shouting back, gave way with a 
will, and were presently out of earshot. 

The seamen who stayed were Weatherwax, Luddy, Gouger, 
Wambold, and Sampson. I sent Wambold to his work in the 
galley, bidding him have a care not to forget the women's 
supper. I then called Sampson aft to the wheel, and told the 
others to hold themselves in readiness for a sudden call. I 
next asked Alice Perry to pipe all hands; my ship's company, 
filled with excitement and wonder, rushed on to the poop; I 
believe some of the girls had a notion that I meant to sail the 
ship straight away to Australia; and I saw a suspicion of that 
sort in the seamen, for the three of them went to the galley, 
and talked to Wambold, and all of them watched us with six 
or eight of their partners standing near. 

But I had no other motive in summoning the girls than to 
request them to change into male attire, so as to have a good, 
useful working force fitly draped in case of emergency. The 
seamen saw what I meant, when the girls came up clothed as 
lads, and went on to the forecastle with the partners. 

The after part of the ship now looked full of men ; familiar 
as this feature of our shipboard life had long since grown, for 
ever since the worst of the Horn was over I had gone on 
patiently and ploddingly training my female crew, I could 
not help laughing when I gazed around at the dressed-up 
women; if it hadn't been for their hair they'd have appeared 
the completest sailors you can imagine; rather short for the 


most part, it is true, but in the main as broad-shouldered, 
stout, and vigorous as any lads I was ever shipmate with; 
and most of them in their male duds, spite of their hair, look- 
ing much more like young men than young women. 

I was talking to Kate when Alice Perry in her man's 
clothes rolled up to me; her coarse beauty was wonderfully 
heightened by her dress ; she, of them all, looked the charac- 
ter of handsome, mutinous, dare-devil young seadog the best. 
She drew close, with a flashing glance toward the helmsman, 
and said in a sharp whisper: 

"Capt'n, why's the ship standing still?" 

"Don't you know I'm waiting for those men to return?" 

"That's just it, then!" she snapped. "What d'yer want 
with 'em? They've served us beastly bad, haven't they? I'd 
like to dish that Cobbs too — she and the rest." 

"Mind how you talk," said I, looking into her eyes, which, 
though sometimes as cold as a cat's, were now on fire with 
temper ; with an angry cat's expression in them too. 

"Here's thirty of us, and you're a man; and the rest of the 
girls '11 help," said she. "Lock up the sailors that's left, and 
sail away." 

"No," I answered, frowning at her. 

"Yer always agin what I ask." 

I grasped her by the arm. "If the sailors overhear you 
they'll drown you." 

We stared at each other, and then she gave me one of her 
wild, glaring grins, wheeling round immediately afterward, 
and trying to whistle as she walked away. 

"There's the soul of a pirate in that figure," said Kate, 
looking after her. 

"Whoever bore her mulled her sex," I exclaimed. 

"She's so much in love with you," said Kate, "she'd kill 
you for jealousy, if you provoked her." 

"Then she mustn't know, or I'm a dead man," I answered. 

She did not ask me to explain myself. 



While Brigstock was on shore, I stood out to improve my 
offing. My crew of women filled on the topsail, braced up, 
hauled taut to windward, and coiled down as smartly as any 
forecastle company. When I had increased the distance by 


about half a mile, the girls backed the yards again. The 
fellow at the helm steered with a face of admiration while this 
was doing. Two others were in the chains swinging the lead; 
the remaining two would have pulled with the women, but the 
girls told them to get out of the way ; and they held aloof, 
looking on, grinning like thirsty spaniels. 

I constantly swept the island with the telescope; but the 
vegetation was wonderfully thick and rich, and, when Brig- 
stock's boat had entered one of the green shady creeks, I saw 
no more of the men. Sometimes I*d strain my ear, fancying 
I caught a sound of firearms. Imagination was lively, and I'd 
see a movement down in the vegetation near the shore' as of 
something creeping and black, with a greasy gleam. But the 
glass resolved me nothing, save bushes, and tall grasses, and 
trees, when I directed it at the spot. 

About seven o'clock I came on deck, after taking some 
supper, and saw the boat. My heart beat hard at the sight of 
her. It was a scene of tender, spacious, indeed glorious 
beauty just then, for the sun was burning behind the island, 
and the mass of the land stood out in dyes deepened to a 
heart-melting loveliness, by the splendor of their setting, and 
the sky line ran in feathers of palm and cocoa, till it was 
smoothed out by distance or altitude into the dark green 
polished round of the hill. The western light sank so deep 
into the evening shadow that the distance of the illimitable 
night eastward seemed to open, and the ocean streamed in 
ripples of gilt into it. 

All the while, saving a short interval for supper, the women 
thronged the bulwarks and forecastle, feasting their eyes on 
that delicious, restful scene of land. It was pitiful to mark 
the yearning, devouring looks of many of them; the heart- 
craving for a run ashore, a roll in the grass, for a handful of 
sweet-cool fruit that should luxuriously sink through and 
through to the marrow; for a drink from one of the bright 
falls shining afar. 

The boat came along leisurely; the partners screamed a 
welcome when she was within earshot, and the rowers looked 
round and nodded, but they pulled like men dead beat. The 
first to come over the side was Brigstock; Miss Cobbs darted 
from under the break of the poop to meet him, and they stood 
together talking for some moments very earnestly, he holding 
her by both hands. 

I composed my face, but my heart beat hard with anxiety 
while I walked the poop, waiting for Brigstock, He arrived 
presently, moving very slowly. 


"Well?" said I. 

"It's a beautiful island, capt'n." 

"Will it suit you?" 

"We believe it will, sir." 


"We're all agreed it'll answer," said he, raising his voice 
that the man at the wheel, who was straining his ear, might 
hear him. "But," he continued, talking as much at that 
worthy (Weatherwax) as at me, "afore we decide our pardners 

must view it." 

"That's but right." 

He then described the island; but his description scarcely 
went further than Bull's. He said there was a fine lagoon 
round the point, where, should they agree to occupy the place, 
the ship would lie snug and safe as in harbor, while they took 
what they wanted out of her. "I'll accept no risk of that 
sort," said I. "What! Enter a lagoon with a ship drawing 
eighteen feet, without a pilot, or a chart of soundings ! And 
more than a hundred souls to occupy that island till something 
comes along should we touch and stick, and go to pieces all 
in due course! No lagoon for me. We'll work in close 
inshore; you've plenty of good landing places." 

"Well," said he, with a smothered yawn, "we'll not let that 
be a difficulty, sir." 

I stepped to the side to see what they were doing in the 
boat, and found them handing up a quantity of cocoanuts and 
plantains to the women. Brigstock sung out for fruit for the 
captain. I observed that only the partners were to be regaled, 
and asked for a few nuts and clusters, as a treat for some of 
my own people. Then, as the dark was drawing down, I 
ordered the boat to be hoisted, and my crew of girls braced 
the topsail yard to the wind. 

There was nothing for it but to stand on and off throughout 
the night, and keep a bright lookout for reefs. Fortunately, 
the moon gave a clear light, and robed the island in a mist of 
silver which shone faintly upon the sea, so that we could never 
lose sight of the land. All this night long I was up and down. 
The women kept the decks till eleven ; and some of the part- 
ners were talking to the seamen down in the waist, where the 
moonlight lay bright after eight bells had been struck. 

Dawn found us off the island again ; and soon after sunrise 
the ship was full of life. It was just such weather as had 
shone yesterday, with the same warm gushing of wind, only 
weaker. The men got breakfast early, doing nothing to the 
ship save laying the topsail to the mast. The women were at 


breakfast in the 'tween decks, when the crew cleaned out the 
longboat, and hoisted her over the side. 

There was a big party of them to go ashore; and they 
needed a boat of some burden. 

Brigstock conversed with me on the poop, while the men 
were at this job. He told me there were no signs of life on 
the island. They had looked about them carefully and dis- 
covered nothing to tell that the spot had been inhabited at any 
period. He said if he took possession in the name of Queen 
Victoria, would it belong to England, or to him and his party 
as its settlers? 

I said if they settled the island. Great Britain was not 
likely to dispossess them. If they flourished they'd call' 
themselves a dependency, and England would send out 
help to enable them to fight with their enemies should they 
be attacked. 

"We shan't want no help," said he, "for we don't hintend 
no fighting. Who's a-going to attack us? There's some 
custom in taking possession; can yer name it, sir?" 

"Hoist the British flag, and say, 'I take possession in the 
Queen's name,' and then call for three cheers." 

"Suppose it's been already took possession of by the 

"They may attempt to turn you out; you appeal to your 
native country; you become the subject of a long diplomatic 
correspondence, and perhaps the occasion of a war; and the 
name of Brigstock passes into tradition, as not only a father of 
South Sea settlements, but a creator of history." 

He relished all this with one of his slow smiles, and, after 
eying the island for a while, stepped to the rail to see what 
they were at in the boat. 

Observing Alice Perry on the quarter-deck, I bade her pipe, 
"all hands shift clothes." One of twenty women overhang- 
ing the bulwark rail called up to me: 

"Capt'n, mayn't we go on shore for a treat?" 

I shook my head. 

"Why not?" cried Emma Marks. 

I answered with a scowl, and turned my back. Gladly 
would I have sent the poor women ashore for a run for the day, 
to eat the sweet tropical fruit, and refresh themselves at the cold, 
bright springs, and forget their dreary habitation of 'tween 
decks in the twinkling shadows of the rich woods. But who 
was to put them ashore and bring them off, and be responsible 
for their safety when landed? 

Not until ten o'clock did the longboat get away. There 


went in her eleven men and all the chosen females. Bull and 
Jackson remained in the ship. 

I found something incredible in the sight of the respectable, 
sausage-curled Miss Cobbs, attired as though she was going on 
a visit to friends, descending the gangway ladder the men had 
thrown over, with her countenance defined in lines of self- 
complacency, and demure importance under her bonnet. The 
looks of the others, such as Kate Davis and the two Honey- 
balls, rendered realization of this settling scheme easy; but 
Miss Cobbs! 

Brigstock handed her down, and seated her in the stem 
sheets; the men and women made a big boatful as they shoved 
off, hoisting the sail, laughing and chatting like a party on 
pleasure, looking up at the faces along the bulwark rail, and 
nodding and answering shrill calls not to forget to return with 
plenty of cocoanuts and plantains. 

While the boat was going ashore, I observed Perry and 
three or four others in earnest conversation. All my girl 
company, male-attired, were on the poop. Perry and the girl 
she talked with came and asked me to proceed on the voyage. 
I pointed to the longboat, and said, "And leave those people?" 
Yes," cried Alice passionately. 
'We had enough of this yesterday, my girl," said I. 

Her face darkened, and she exclaimed, **Why are we to be 
kept waiting? What's those beasts there done that they* re to 
keep us messing about here, while they goes ashore and enjies 

"Lord, if I was but a man!" exclaimed Emmy Reed, with 
a grin of temper that exhibited a mouthful of teeth, not so 
white and glaring as Perry's, though. 

"For two pins," said Alice, "we'd lock yer up, and sail 
away with the ship just to spite 'em. Ah, that we would," 
she cried, with a saucy red flashing toss of her head; "if we 
knew which way to steer!" 

"Would you?" said I. "Would you?" 

And putting my arm coaxingly and caressingly through 
hers, I looked her in the eyes, and led her away from her 
companions ; and then, in lover-like accents, told her to keep 
her temper, and to suffer me to have my way ; the mutiny of 
her spirit softened out of her gaze ; she liked my caressing 
manner, and was presently purring to it after her style. 

I observed that Kate watched us. 

The boat, I have said, got away at ten, and did not return 
until seven. I guessed they were enjoying a fine holiday 
ashore. They had plenty of fruit to eat, and water to drink, 

« < 


and a delicious little scene of country to ramble in. Three 
times my girls trimmed sail for a "ratch," as we term it, by 
which means I kept a safe offing. I often looked through the 
glass, but never could see a sign of the Brigstock party. 

I'll not enlarge upon the incidents of that day. Alice Perry 
gave me no more trouble ; but that blister of a female, Emma 
Marks, came very near to causing confusion by rushing on to 
the poop, and calling upon my crew to lower the remaining 
boats without regard to my orders, so that parties might go 

"I can pull an oar," she squeaked. "There's Corbin there 
can row, and Hann Wright, and Fanny Pike." 

How did my heart grieve she was no man, that I might have 
griped her by breech and scruff, and flung her over the 
poop rail ! 

Thus all day, with a brief break of three boards for an 
offing, did the Earl of Leicester lie, softly breathing rather than 
rolling, with the light delicate pulse of swell out of the north, 
and her sails slightly fanning as she swayed, and the sky 
cloudless from sealine to sealine. 

In the afternoon Kate told me that, while the women were 
at dinner, she overheard some of them say they meant to ask 
Brigstock to let them join the settlers on the island. I had all 
along reckoned, from the moment when the whole beauty of 
this little Pacific Eden was revealed to us, that many would 
yield to its witchery ; those particularly who were orphans, and 
perhaps utterly friendless in England, with but vague ideas 
and lean hopes when they thought of Australia, and of work 
and wages there. 

At about seven o'clock in the evening, when the sunset was 
splendid behind the island, I saw the longboat creep, a black 
spot, with the wink of oars on either hand, out of the creek it 
had vanished in ; she came along briskly, and was speedily 
alonsgide. The girls stepped on board very merry, browned, 
somewhat bedraggled, as though with horse play and caper 
cutting in the woods; they brought a good cargo of nuts and 
plantains, which were freely distributed. Miss Cobbs alone 
looked as though she had sat still and watched the others ; 
her attire was as neat as when she left. Brigstock maddened 
tne with impatience by lingering in the boat. I was burning 
with curiosity to know the decision the party had arrived at, 
and, unable to bear myself any longer, called to Miss Cobbs, 
who stood chatting in the gangway with several of the women. 
She came promptly, smirking as usual, but dropped me no 


"Well, Miss Cobbs," said I, "what do you and the others 
think of the island?" 

"Captain Morgan, it is simply lovely," she replied with an 
air of superiority. "Oh, what flowers! the *ole place smells 
like a nosegay!" she exclaimed, bringing her fingers together, 
and rolling up her eyes. 

Do you mean to settle upon it?" 

We do indeed, and on no other. Only think," she cried^ 
extending her hand toward the land, "of natur, as Mr. Brig- 
stock says, endowing us poor people with such a beautiful 
estate! It's nigh as big as a county, sir, and to be had for the 
taking. No wild beasts — sweeter birds than ever you could 
dream of — such beautiful waterfalls, too! a natural 'arbor; 
and on the other side, past the 'ill, an 'ole row of caves, clean 
and airy — living rooms till houses can be contrived, and then 
most useful by and by, as Mr. Brigstock was saying, as 
bonded warehouses." 

I let her run on; indeed her tongue's sharp end had cut so 
great a weight of anxiety from my spirits, that my heart could 
not have beaten a gayer measure had yonder island been Syd- 
ney Heads, and our ship with a pilot aboard entering the bay. 

Brigstock now coming up, I said to him: "So that island 
proves to your liking?" 

It's a Heden," he answered. 

There's a hundred gentlemen's estates on it," said Miss 
Cobbs, "and all beautifuUer than the beautifullest in England." 

"Nothen '11 be wanted," said Brigstock, "but homes." 

"You'll not keep the ship hanging off here longer than's 
necessary, I hope? We've had two days of it; the weather 
favors us, but there may come a change," said I, looking east- 
ward, where I thought I saw an orange flake of sail in the 
shadow, but it melted soon, and was nothing. 

We'll be taming to first thing in the morning," said he. 

Will the boat lie safe? Bit of a job chocking and gettin' 
her over agin." 

We settled to tow her, as I meant to keep under way all 
night as before. We had some further conversation about the 
island; Brigstock and Cobbs then left me, and I got my girl 
crew to trim sail, while the men saw to the longboat. 

It was then nearly dark; the moon not yet risen, and a 
gaping crimson scar of sunset past the island, that made me 
think somehow — as though I was gone mad — of the red mouth 
of a yawning black cat. But all was starry, balmy, and 
serene ; throughout the day the barometer had warranted the 
weather, and now came a third passage of ocean night-beauty, 



the finnamcnt hovering in trembling prisms over our mast- 
heads, the sea stretching flat in liquid black, east and west, 
sparkling in a little light here and there, where some larger 
ripple broke. 

While my crew were below changing, and at the moment 
that the green dawn in the east was whitening into dim silver, 
over a red arch of moon upon the black sea line, the Brigstock 
party, who had gathered together on the forecastle, struck up 
a hymn. All of the "settlers" were there, saving Harding, 
who watched the ship, and Coffin at the wheel. They sang 
with strength, spirit, and something of sweetness; it was a 
familiar hymn, and many on the main deck joined in; that 
song of adoration thus sung by shapes of shadow, forward or 
standing near the main hatch and elsewhere, with the silence in 
the faint white hollow sails climbing to the black line of the furled 
royal, gave a wonderful solemnity to the rising of the moon. 

When the hymn was ended, I heard Brigstock's deep rolling 
voice; he was either lecturing or praying. Presently they sang 
a second hymn. Just then I spied Kate standing in the moon- 
light at the gangway; I called her to me, and told her that the 
people had decided to settle that island yonder; in a few days 
we should be heading for Australia ; in a month, under God, 
we should have arrived at Sydney! Never had my spirits 
danced so in all my years! Had they sung anything but 
hymns, I should have capered to the music. 

While I walked, talking with great excitement to this girl — 
think of our teeming topics ! the island scheme, the passage to 
Sydney with girls for a crew, the afterward — a tall, stoutly 
built woman, named Sarah Thomas, came along the poop and 
stopped us. 

•*Capt'n, may I have a word?" 

••What is it?*' 

•*D'yer think the notion of living upon that there island," 
said she, pointing to the black mass of it on the quarter, ''is 
worth entertaining?** 
•By whom?" 

By me and some others." 
'They don't want you." 

Why not?" she exclaimed, with some heat. '•We 
wouldn't meddle with them. We'd be a separate establish- 
ment. They aint got no right to all the island. We'd choose 
bits of ground in a separate part; the men 'ud build 'omes for 
us, and in return we'd wash for them, wait upon 'em, clean, 
and do their herrants. A plenty we could do," she added 
suspiciously, as though afraid of my laughter. 



Laugh I did, nevertheless; and, to get rid of her, bade her 
go to Brigstock. She went away muttering sulkily; and, at the 
head of the ladder, called to others below aggressively, "He 
says they don't want us. As if bein* single, we wasn't of use. 
They can't take it a//, I swear; not lawfully. Who's them 
sailors to grant rights?** and thus calling, she sank down the 
ladder, and vanished. 

We were off the island again in our former position before 
daybreak. The sight was beautiful when the rising sunshine 
streamed upon the land. The dyes shone out in silver, green, 
and gilt, in the steady gleam of ivory, the flashful throb of 
foam upon the beach, in lines of delicate lacelike vapor 
motionless upon the hillside. Yet, captivating as was the pic- 
ture, would not some of the people hang back at the last? 

The longboat was brought to the gangway, and all three 
remaining boats lowered; this was done at daylight. The 
hatches were then opened, and the men went to work to break 
out the goods they meant to take. The bales of clothes were 
easily come at, and before breakfast they had loaded the gig 
with bundles of attire, male and female. Such bountiful 
appropriation was nothing short of piracy ; for lighter offenses 
than bagging those bundles Brigstock and his party would 
have been turned off at Execution Dock and elsewhere in 
days when the youngest of them were sucklings. I could not 
reconcile so very downright a robbery with the excellent prin- 
ciples professed by Brigstock. There went, I dare say, the 
value of the men's pay down to this time, in the gig's lading 
alone. But I resolved to hold my peace. So far as / was 
concerned, they might gut the ship, if they left me the where- 
withal to carry her to Sydney. 

After breakfast they started again, and got a whip to the 
winch to sway some of the heavy things out of the hold. I 
begged Brigstock to break out in such fashion as to give the 
ship no list, for the women would be unable to trim her; he 
promised to see to it. He also consented, if the weather per- 
mitted, to raft some casks ashore and fill them with fresh 
water when they were done with their own business. As I 
have elsewhere said, the ship's lading consisted largely of 
argicultural implements; but the catalogue of commodities 
also comprised many articles always needed by young settle- 
ments, particularly districts distant from a cargo-fed source 
such as Sydney. Brigstock, no doubt, before I was stolen out 
of the Caroline^ had acquainted himself with the character of 
the Earl of Leicester's freight; it was this, perhaps, that set his 
colonizing scheme going. Anyway, down in our ship's hold 


was nearly all that a gang of settlers would need. Figure the 
contents of a large ironmonger's shop ; then add a ready-made 
tailor's establishment; enlarge with a quantity of plowshares, 
rakes, hoes, pickaxes, and so forth; there were bales of coarse 
blankets in the forehold, and, which was of great consequence 
to the Brigstock party, a considerable stock of household stuff, 
such as small square looking-glasses, cheap crockery in crates, 
folding chairs, and bedsteads. 

They had four boats, and all were filled by noon ; so that, 
after getting some dinner and smoking a pipe, they were able 
to start right away for the island. The longboat, with hoisted 
sail, took the other boats in tow. Brigstock was in charge, 
and went with eight men, leaving Harding and two others 
b^ind. There was a pleasant little inshore breeze, and, as we 
lay hove-to within a mile of the shore, the boats soon vanished 
in the green and shady creek the men had headed for on pre- 
vious occasions. They were absent two hours; then returned 
rowing. My girl crew trimmed sail for a board, while the 
men went below into the hold, and I ratched to an offing out- 
side of a mile, which our drift was bound to narrow before the 
crew were ready with the second cargo. 

All this while the weather continued splendid and quiet, for 
which my heart beat in gratitude every time I looked round 
the sea, for I was already bitterly sick of this business of loit- 
ering ; I was feverishly eager for the start, the more so because 
of that sort of nervousness that makes you crazy to make an 
end of the difficulty; is it a tooth or an arm? In the name of 
the angels, quick ! that it may be over ! Before me lay th€ 
task of sailing the ship for a month, and perhaps longer, 
through perilous waters, with only women, to work the vessel, 
and myself the sole navigator. You'll suppose I wished it 
bedtime, and all well. 

They went away with a second cargo of four boatfuls in the 
afternoon, two hours before sundown. All the partners helped 
at the winch, and were busy wherever they could be useful. I 
kept my own girls dressed in male attire on the poop, which 
diminished the main deck crowd ; but there were nearly fifty 
others to hang about, to get in the way of the men, to pass 
remarks, to strive, in short, to breed trouble. 

The worst of these was not Emma Marks, as I might have 
expected, but that stout, strong female, Sarah Thomas, who, 
with others, wanted to go ashore with the Brigstock party. I 
learned from Kate that Thomas had spoken to Brigstock, and 
that he had sternly refused to take any other than the men's 
own women. Hot words had followed, and in revenge a mob 


of the girls who wished to settle, Thomas acting as ringleader, 
went about the deck, calling insolent remarks down to the 
sailors in the boats, or in the hold, whenever they caught sight 
of them, mocking and sneering at the *'pardners," and making 
themselves offensive in that sort of wg,y in which people of 
their condition are usually artists. The men took but little 
notice of them. Now and then you'd hear a deep growl of 
•'Stow that ballyrag!" or a cry faint in the depths of **Hold 
your blather, you trulls!" **Dry up, you fagots!" 

Once, Brigstpck faced Sarah Thomas, and in deep, warning 
notes asked her if she thought such behavior * *was a-going to 
bring her a hinvitation to jine the island party? I*d rather, 
land a boatful of rats than two such as you," said he. **Yer 
should marry a militiaman; dom't hentertain no notion of 
'spectable sailors. Jer stare arter yer drink? Then you're 
drunk now. My opinion is," he exclaimed, looking round, 
"that this here Thomas is one of them parties as picks up 
their knowledge of life by putting their heye to the neck of a 
whisky bottle, and using it as a telescope." He nodded 
severely at her, and, amid a little squeal of laughter from some 
of the partners, went over the side into one of the boats there. 

The surprising part was the enthusiasm of the women who 
were to take up their abode on the island with the seamen.' 
They kept together, and throughout the day laughed and 
talked, and sang; bustling about in a gang to help the men, all 
with faces glowing with holiday pleasure and happy expecta- 
tion. I never witnessed the least suggestion in them of hang- 
ing back. You'd see them staring at the island as at something 
newly given to them, as a man after he's bought a house looks 
at it, and walks on t'other side the street to see it, though he 
may have lived in it for years. My notion had been, the 
recoil in them would have been fatal to Brigstock's scheme, 
when a day of staring had staled the island as a picture, and 
when they noticed how blank was the circle of sea, how lonely 
that spot of land in the midst of it; nothing alive moving upon 
its white beach; no feathering of smoke anywhere to indicate 
human existence. But, in truth, imagination in those poor, 
rude, homely souls stopped at perception that yonder was a 
piece of country, which they were at liberty to divide among 
them, where every woman would have a husband, where 
they'd build houses, and plant gardens, and lounge their lives 
away, wiping out of memory all the unpleasant parts — the 
severe mistresses, the month's notice, the bad character. 

Another night drew down : a night of moonlight and silence 
upon the sea; the soft wind blew, the stars trembled in their 


hosts; again the Brigstock party sang hymns upon the fore- 
castle till nine o'clock, and till eleven sat talking there. 
Most of the women went to bed early; they were sick of this 
detention, weary of the sight of land they were not permitted 
to visit, and many were sulky and gloomy with envy. 

By noon, however, next day, the men had carried ashore all 
they proposed to take, including a raft of spare booms and a 
couple of ensigns. Hospitably had the hold served them! 
Two boats they loaded with provisions, chiefly tinned goods, 
which sight so alarmed me that I went below before they put 
off, to ascertain what supplies they intended to leave us. 
There was not plenty, indeed, but I reckoned there would be 
enough, unless we should be sorely put to it by head winds or 
foul weather; of beef and pork they took as much as the gig 
could swim with. This was to be their last load ; and, with a 
whole squadron of spare booms in tow, and three boats laden 
down to the gunwhales, away they went in the longboat, rais- 
ing a mighty cheering, which was answered by a hundred 
shrill cries by their partners, who waved hats, shawl, hands 
in a most impassioned, grotesque exhibition of encouragement 
and Wapping-like devotion. 

Brigstock had kept his word, and left the ship on a level 
keel; basing my calculations on the burden of the longboat 
and the other three boats, I reckoned they had taken about 
fifty tons of goods. 



On the morning of the fifth day, dating from our arrival off 
the island, we were heading in for it once more to heave-to for 
the last time that the Brigstock party might go ashore. We 
towed the longboat in our wake. Everything had been com- 
pleted before dark on the previous night when, with the help 
of my women crew at the winch, we had hoisted aboard a 
number of casks filled with fresh water for us by Brigstock 
and his men, and rafted off in tow of the boats. 

The wind had shifted: it was blowing south; a merry 
whistling wind, cool and refreshing; the ocean was a wide 
dance of diamonds under the sun, and the life of little white 
clouds swarming briskly northward was in the sky. It was 
about half-past nine in the morning; I stood in conversation 
with Brigstock at the break of the poop. All my crew, 


dressed in male attire, were scattered about the decks, 
mingling and conversing with the rest of the females. The 
chests and boxes belonging to the settlers had been taken 
ashore on the previous day, together with half a suit of canvas 
to supply the people with roofs until they had built houses. 
The ship's bell was also gone ; likewise the clock, and many 
other conveniences and necessaries. The whole group of sail- 
ors and partners, barring one at the helm and Brigstock, were 
on the forecastle, attired ready for the shore. The women 
had put on their best things; even in this trifling particular they 
showed an incapacity of distinguishing that touched me. 

Brigstock was dressed as parsonically as his clothes would 
admit of. He had found a white shawl, and had buttoned 
himself up to it ; his head cover was a slop black wideawake; 
but the fellow's best claims in this way lay in his face, which 
this morning, as we drove slowly toward the island under a 
main topgallant sail, was unusually long, yellow, and com- 
placent; his dark eyes dwelt steadfastly and thoughtfully upon 
the island; and often a slow smile of deep and serious gratifi- 
cation, breaking. out at his mouth, overran his face and disap- 
peared at his eyebrows. 

"Capt'n," said he, turning to me after a long pause in our 
talk, ''the time for saying good-by has pretty nigh come." 
'Yes, it's close at hand," said I. 
I hope we're forgiven the wrong we done yer?" 
'You and your men have atoned fully and handsomely. 
The behavior of the seamen will remain one of the most mem- 
orable of my life experiences. Well for the red flag if there 
were more influences of your sort in our forecastles." 

He sunk his head in a solemn gesture of thanks, and said: 
"As our oath has been kept by us, so you'll keep your'n, sir." 

'It'll take us some time to settle down, and we dorn't want 
to be broke up just when we've got comfortable." 
'You'll not be broken up through me." 
We shall hoist the flag arter we've got a spar set up, and 
then take possession. There's a beautiful valley t'other side, 
past that hill there; that's where we mean to build! It's 
convenient for the lagoon, which we'll make a road ter in 
doo course." 

"Your first act, I suppose, will be to marry yourselves?" 

"I'll see to that," he answered, with a stiff, severe air, as if 
he would have no levity in that direction. 

"Who'll marry you to Miss Cobbs?" 

"The party I delegates; him as I empowers by my rights as 


« <■ 



president helect," he answered fluently, as though the subject 
had been long ago argued and settled. 

"It's a heroic undertaking," said I, looking at the island 
that was fast broadening and deepening into proportion and 
beauty, though frightful for loneliness to my mind, figuring it 
as I did on the chart, and thinking of the leagues and leagues 
the sea went away from it on all hands ere washing the land 
of white men and the civilization of Australia and South 
America. "How shall one get to hear whether you flourish 
or not?" 

**Ah!" said he, "there can't be no noosepapers with us for 
yet a bit. But it's a home and a beautiful one; as much land 
as is in a hundred gentlemen's seats, as Miss Cobbs truly says, 
only finer, cultivated by the fust of all gardeners — Natur; 
such a home as I dorn't wonder makes many of them poor 
women down there wild to share, but it couldn't be. There'd 
be nothen but rows. Let 'em find pardners, and learn civility, 
and they'll be welcome to jine us — if they can find us," he 
added, with a dry askew glance at me. 

Thus we conversed. I saw Miss Cobbs talking with Kate 
Darnley in the waist ; the minutes slipped by ; the ship drove 
along over smooth water, the long Pacific swell helping her. 

"We're close enough in, I think," said I presently. A fit 
of nervousness took me suddenly, and my heart beat quick. 

"Back the main topsail yard!" I bawled. **Port main 
brace ! " 

The girls, full of zeal, eagerness, expectation, rushed aft to 
where the ropes led. 

"For the last time, sweethearts," cried Alice Perry, in a 
voice merry as music with the emotions of that hour. She 
struck up one oJF the many sailor songs she and the rest knew, 
and the girls pulled with a will and a chorus. The topsail 
came aback; the ship lost way. 

"Are we all ready?" shouted Brigstock. 

His party answered by coming quickly from the forecastle, 
and gathering about the gangway. 

"Corbin, take the wheel," said I. 

She replaced Jackson, who came along smiling, and said, 
when close to me, "Is it to be good-by here, sir?" 
'If you please, my man," said I. 

Then good-by, and God bless ye," said he, extending his 
hand; "and may you have a prosperous voyage to Sydney, and 
do as well by our stealing of you, as you fared ill by our mis* 
understanding of yer. " 
, I shook his hand, and he left the poop. 

< (I 


They lowered the quarter-boat they meant to take and keep, 
brought the longboat to the gangway, and got the steps over. 
Brigstock stood with his hands upon the brass rail of the poop- 
break, looking round and along the ship as though to make 
sure he'd forgotten nothing. He turned to me in a minute 
or two, and said: 

"Is there nothen we can do for you, capt'n, afore we go?'* 


"The anchors are at the catheads," said he, "all's ready 
with your ground tackle. But how about your canvas, sir?" 
he continued, rolling up his eyes at the sails. "Would yer 
like us to leave you snugger? None of the gells I expect '11 
be able to handle them main and fore top's'ls." 

I told him I meant to keep the vessel under the shortened 
canvas she now carried; should it come on to blow, I'd lower 
the yards, haul out the reef-tackles, and leave the rest to the 
gods. I said I looked for fine weather. If I wanted help I'd 
shift my helm for it; it could never be far off in this ocean of 
islands and whalers. 

He looked at me with a dull admiration in his slow gaze; 
then, going to the rail and observing the boats were ready, this 
formal, solemn mid-century reproduction of the famous muti- 
neer. Christian, returned and said: 

"Capt'n, we're ready to go." 

"I'll bid you all good-by at the gangway," said I, and went 
on to the quarter-deck. 

The women crowded about the settlers, as I call them, and 
stared at the sailors and girls as though they had been stran- 
gers, just come over the side. The prevalent emotion was 
wonder; the looks of most of the females expressed it. They 
hardly spoke. The partners, on the other hand, waiting for 
Brigstock and perhaps for me, chatted briskly with the seamen. 

When Brigstock joined them they were twenty-six in all. 
I could not view them without feeling a little affected. 
Doubtless I refined upon their thoughts. There was nothing 
in their faces, in the notes of their laughter and talk to infuse 
a melancholy into my contemplation of what lay before them. 
Then again, in fruit and fish there was abundance to subsist on, 
though the island should remain unvisited for years. Still, 
the association of shipboard life wrought in me. I could not 
behold those people thus departing, thus exiling themselves, 
my own countrymen and countrywomen, full of brave hopes 
and sturdy resolves, intrepid as any family that ever set sail 
from the shores of our native country to extend our dominion 
by perilous exploration and by labor hard, patient, and 


obscure ; I say I could not view them without emotion, with- 
out being moved for a little to a degree that had nearly 
dimmed my eyes. 

"Captain Morgan," said Brigstock, taking off his hat and 
extending his hand, "farewell, and may God's eye be upon 
yer, and upon all these people who have only you to look to, 
after the Almighty, for protection and safety. * * 

"Mr. Brigstock," I answered, "from the bottom of my 
heart I wish you well. May your settlement prosper, and 
may your name achieve the renown the heroic example you 
have set your followers entitles you to." 

I then shook hands with Miss Cobbs. This seemed to me 
the only unreal passage in the whole prosaic piece. While I 
looked at her I could not believe it possible that this highly 
respectable person, with her sausage curls and prim attire, was 
one, indeed the leader, of the women who were going ashore 
to live with thirteen seamen, first under canvas, then in bam- 
boo houses. With one after another of the settlers, male and 
female, I shook hands. This was followed by some hand- 
shaking between the people who were going, and a few, but a 
few only, of the emigrants. The flourish of farewell being 
ended, the women were handed into the boats by the men, 
who followed them and then cast off; Brigstock steering the 
longboat, and sour Harding the quarter-boat. 

I ran on to the poop, and Kate came after me, and together 
we stood looking. My girl sailors lined the rail, and a crowd 
of women got on to the forecastle. I meant to watch the boats 
vanish in the creek before trimming for Sydney. When they 
had gone about a cable's length, all the people stood up and 
cheered the ship loud and long; that large cry of farewell came 
to the ear edged with the female voices in it. I flourished my 
cap, and roared back a cheer, and Kate waved her hand, and 
a few women forward flourished to the boats, but the greater 
mass of us were mute as death, and deadly was the chill of 
that silence upon the spirits, generous at the sight and warmed 
by the huzzaing of those departing men and women. 
It is a spiteful sex! " I burst out. 
They hate Cobbs," said Kate. 

**¥ or such kitchen trollops to sneer!" I exclaimed, savage 
with the silence of the women. "Cobbs or no Cobbs, there 
goes the making of a great nation in those boats!" 

She seemed to measure the island, then looked at me with a 

In the boats they continued to strain their eyes at the ship. 
The faces of the women, all turned our way, were white as 


paper. It was the one thrilling passage in their experiences; 
the last sigh as it were in the death scene; the pause of the 
gallows before the hangman draws his bolt ; the flash ere the 
murderous missile strikes; a something soul-moving in the 
instant of its doing. I could not shift my eyes from the boats; 
they constrained me as by magic; and, when at last they van- 
ished ill the creek I gave a sigh as though I had been sobbing, 
then came to myself on a sudden with desperate perception of 
my great responsibilities. 

Needless to say, I had long before, in these five days of 
waiting off the island, explored the charts in the cabin and 
settled upon the course to be steered; and I determined to 
start by heading due south, till I should have struck the lati- 
tude of 26*^ or 27**; then heading due west I should have a 
wide field of clear Pacific before me, nothing to trouble about 
in the shape of lai(d, providing I was not blown to the north- 
ward, till we should have reached the longitude of lys*'. We 
should then be within easy sail of Sydney. 

The moment the boats had disappeared, and I had come to 
myself, so to speak, I stepped from the rail and looking round 
me I shouted: 

"Now, girls, hurrah for Sydney! Let's get that main top- 
sail swung, and away we go!** 

"Hurrah for Sydney!** echoed Alice Perry, springing into 
the air. 

"Now's to show what we're made of!** cried Emmy 

"Brace round lively, sweethearts!*' I bawled. 

The girls, perfectly disciplined by this time as you'll sup- 
pose, judging by the prodigious pains I had taken, fled with- 
out the least disorder to the several braces; and in a moment 
the poop was alive with bending and lifting figures, all pulling 
as rhythmically together as a pendulum swings; and the wind 
was gay with their girlish chanting of sailors* songs. 

There were thirty of them ; not one had so far failed me. 
Long since they had become as accustomed to their garb as I 
to mine; all novelty had many weeks before passed out of thai 
condition of their training; it was as commonplace and famil- 
iar a detail of our everyday life as my shooting the sun, or the 
getting of our meals. 

We had soon trimmed sail, but the wind directly headed us, 
and, fearful of reefs if I stood to the westward, I kept the ship 
on the starboard tack, proposing a twenty-four hours* board 
so if the wind held. It was about eleven o*clock when we 
started; the sail we had hove-to under was the sail I carried, 


nothing above a main topgallant sail, and the mainsail was 

When we had braced to the breeze, and the girls had coiled 
down, I went to the break of the poop, and called the women 
to assemble on the quarter-deck, and to my crew to gather 
about me. Susannah Corbin was at the wheel, handling the 
helm as artistically as any able seaman I ever sailed with. I 
waited while the women collected, and now it was that I real- 
ized the position I was in. I don't mean to say I had not all 
along clearly grasped the significance of my scheme to carry 
this ship to port with women only; all that it involved, 
every possibility of successful, perilous, or tragic issue, I had 
perceived and dwelt on over and over again; but at this 
moment realization was rendered acute, in a sense before 
impossible: first, by the absence of the seamen, then by our 
being under way, by the sight of the crowds dependent upon 
me, by the emptiness of, by the silence in, that forecastle 

The women assembled on the quarter-deck; my crew, as I 
call them, ranged themselves on either hand, in divisions of 
port and starboard watches, for long ago they had been thus 
divided and regularly mustered. We were now, all told, 
seventy-seven souls; that is, seventy-six women and one 

**I haven't called you together to make a speech," said I 
after a pause. "We're bound to Sydney at last, and there's 
not one of you but will do her dead best to help me to get 
there. My duty is to arrange for the discipline of the ship. 
I am captain, of course; my chief mate is Alice Perry, with 
whom I associate Miss Kate Darnley; they will keep a lookout 
together. My second mate is Miss Emmy Reed, with whom 
I associate Charlotte Brown. My crew know their duties, 
they are fifteen in each watch ; and, after the forecastle has 
been cleaned and made fit for their reception, they will occupy 
it, as being more convenient for quickly answering a call than 
the 'tween decks. These arrangements, I hope, are to your 

A murmur of assent arose from among my crew; the women 
on the quarter-deck made no sign, perhaps holding that this 
part of the discipline did not concern them. 

"The seven who can steer will do so by rotation; Corbin 
starts, and the helmswomen will arrange among themsdves 
as to how the succession shall run when two hours' trick is 
up. And now," said I, leaning over the rail to address the 
females below, "we shall want a cook and a cook's mate; call 


4 t 

t ( 


it two cooks. There are many of you perfectly qualified for 
that situation. The two ladies who cook will have nothing 
else to do. I call for volunteers. * * 

Several hands were raised, and a number of women cried 
out together. 

"Two only," said I. 

"'Taint an orfice to be jumped for," shouted Emma Marks. 
"What's there to cook?" 

Time we got a meal fit to eat, * ' cried a woman. 

Who can make pies and currant puddens?" yelled another. 

It's been salt pork and salt beef ever since *ome." 
Settle it among yourselves," said I; "we shall want our 
dinner, and it's drawing on to twelve o'clock." 

Kate, who stood in the crowd, proposed that those who 
desired to be cooks should draw for the post; after much 
wrangling it was agreed that two women, whose names I forget, 
should take the galley work, and they went forward laughing 
and highly pleased. * 

"I shall want a steward. Who'll wait upon me?" said I. 

A general shout followed this. The post of steward seemed 
even more coveted than that of cook. 

"Let Miss Damley wait on yer," called Emma Marks. 

There was so much eagerness that I perceived it would be 
hopeless to wait for the women to agree. To end the diffi- 
culty, I fastened my eye upon Sarah Harvey, who, as you may 
remember, was a short, very strong hunchback, with a fierce 
squint, and coarse red hair; of a countenance and shape as 
though fashioned after adesign by Hogarth; and, pointing to 
her, I sung out: 

"Miss Harvey, will you wait upon me in the cabin?" 

She squinted with astonishment, suspecting a joke; the 
vulgar-minded laughed, and an alley laugh it was! I put on 
a stern face, and said: 

Harvey, will you or won't you wait upon me in the cabin?" 
If you are in earnest, I will, and gladly," she answered, 

"Then you're the steward. I'll tell you your duties by 
and by." 

I spoke peremptorily; and my manner and face silenced the 
girls, some of whom might otherwise have diverted themselves 
at Sarah Harvey's expense. 

"Now, ladies," said I, "a situation's vacant by Miss Cobbs' 
withdrawal. We must have a matron. We must appoint 
some head who'll be responsible for the cleanliness of your 
quarters, contrive that your meals are punctually served, act 


as referee in disputes. You recognize the necessity for such 
a head?" 

Many answered "Yes." 

**Then," said I, '*I leave it to you to choose the likeliest 
person among you. Whoever is kind, and amiable, Snd popu- 
lar, let her be your choice." 

There were no more posts for the women to fill; all other 
work would be mine. I told them I should be satisfied if they 
chose a head by sundown, and then, thanking them for their 
attendance, I called to Kate to come up and walk the deck on 
a lookout with Perry, and went forward. 

I looked into the galley ; the two women were waiting for 
provisions to cook. I put a few questions to them, and, having 
satisfied myself that they understood the sea equipment of this 
big emigrant caboose, I called Sarah Harvey, told off four of 
the girls, and bade them accompany me ; and, with the assist- 
ance of these five women, I sent forward out of the lazarette, 
pantry, and harness cask, all the supplies necessary to provide 
the women with a dinner. 

The girls crowded round the galley to watch the two cooks 
at work. As I passed on my way to the forecastle, I heard 
one say: 

"Soak a biscuit with currants — it *ud bake nicely." 

And another: "Try your 'and at a pie; whether beef or 
pork; mince it fine; mix with biscuit; the tinned meat '11 
make gravy ' * I lost the rest. 

I walked quickly into the forecastle, feeling uneasy when 
the ship was out of my sight. This sea parlor was a large 
interior, corresponding, as a structure, with the raised deck 
aft. It was a gloomy cave, but dry and clean, and sweet 
enough in smell ; the front of it was blocked by the great 
windlass, and the shadow lay heavy under the break there; the 
chain cables were bent, and the lengths of massive rusty links 
arched serpent-like, sheer through the interior from the wind- 
lass barrel to the hawsepipe. The forecastle was a little 
square; the sunshine streamed through it, and lay in a flood 
of light on the deck beneath. The sailors had made a clean 
sweep; chests, bedding, clothes, and blankets — everything 
was gone. Nothing survived the Jacks' occupancy but a black 
bowl of pipe in the midst of the sunshine, and an old sea 

Two rows of bunks went on either hand into the eyes of the 
ship; with these and the cabins to port and starboard outside, 
intended for the use of the ship's bo'sun, sailmaker, and car- 
penter, I calculated berthing room for twenty-two; which was 


all I needed, since of the thirty girls, fifteen turn and turn 
about must be continuously up and dressed, ready for a call. 

I am entering into these minute particulars at the risk of 
fatiguing you, but this is a voyage memorable in tradition. I 
have never yet told the story, and now that I am upon it the 
whole seafaring world will be interested to learn how I managed. 

My present anxiety was to settle the discipline of the ship, 
that I might devote myself to the navigation of her. As I was 
walking aft a number of women crossed the deck ; they were 
among the most respectable of the people; one of them 

* *We wish Miss Damley would take the post of matron. 
She's our choice, if she's willing." 

I thought a minute, and then considered the notion good. 

"She shall be the matron," said I; "but you must support 
her authority. The pudding is a pretty gritty one with your 
Emma Marks and others, and I don't want the job of biting 
to prove tooth-breaking to Miss Darnley." 

They all, in several forms of expression, promised to back 
her up. 1 then went on the poop, where she was standing 
beside Alice Perry. It startled me for a breath, though used 
as I was to the sight even, and accustomed as my mind was to 
the thought of it, to see that figure of a boy at the wheel; 
other figures of boys standing about the poop, and that boyish 
figure alongside Kate. And not that only, but to feel that I 
was the only man in the ship ! 

Perry stood with her hand upon the main royal backstay, 
looking to sea; she made a handsome sailorly lad ; had she 
but cropped her hair, you'd have thought her the beau ideal of 
a young English seaman, with her cloth cap on the back of 
her head, her rough hair tossed upon her forehead, her eyes 
fixed, as though she watched an object afar, the coarse beauty 
of her profile showing clear-cut against the sky, her glowing 
lips parted, her figure swaying on the long-drawn heave of the 
plank. Kate might have been her sweetheart; it was the mas- 
culine, vulgar beauty of the one that made her tHe manly figure 
she looked ; the other was all refinement, you saw the lady in 
her the plainer for the face and bearing of her companion. 

••Kate," said I. 

She turned and came to me. 

••They want you to be matron." 

She made a face, and looked at the women on the main deck. 

••Take the post, dear." 

I had never called her that before. She colored, and stared, 
and said: ••They won't obey me." 


**The best of them will back you, and then there's my 

• • What shalj I have to do ? " 

I ran over Hannah Cobbs* routine, dwelling strongly on 
the necessity of the airing of the bedding, of keeping the 
'tween decks well washed and sweet, and thoroughly ventilated. 

**Think of sickness happening," said I, **of a fever break- 
ing out. They're an illiterate, raw, slum-like lot in the mass, 
and need such a head as you." 

After a short chat to this effect she consented, and left me 
to arrange for the mess, and to see that the people got their 

"What's the sign of a change of weather?" said Alice Perry, 
rolling up to me. There is a theatrical instinct and talent of 
impersonation in all women, and this girl, when dressed as a 
man, rolled in her walk as though she had used the sea all 
her life. 

"A ring round the moon, clouds to windward, twenty 
things; but the sure sign's the barometer." 

**I want to know what to look out for when I keep watch," 
said she. 

"Observe the ship's course; see that the girl at the wheel 
holds her straight, or we shall be ashore. Keep awake. Be 
careful of that at night. Miss Damley's going to be matron; 
I'll take her place, and be your associate in keeping watch." 

She smiled, and said, "I'm ^iiWyour chief mate, aint I?" 

"Oh, yes." 

"I mean to keep this," said she, swinging the silver whistle, 

"So you shall," said I, and left her to see how Susannah 
Corbin was doing at the wheel. 

It was a fine, clear, brilliant day, a wonderful picture of 
little gilt clouds in the air, rolling along with the wind in puffs, 
as though some vast globe of vapor had burst in orbs or bulbs; 
I found the ship's course true to a hair. 

"Well done," said I. "You're the girl to haul in the slack, 
eh, Susannah? You're the sort for the homeward bounder's 
tow rope. * ' 

"Whoy," she answered with a laugh, "what 'ud father ha' 
thought if I couldn't steer a ship?" 

I looked at the island. Already its features were sunk in 
shadow, and it hung like a long blue cloud upon the sea. 
Were the people there watching the gleaming shaft our canvas 
made upon the ocean? Had any of them already repented of 
their resolution? Why, thought I, I might figure them as pen- 
sively gazing at our distant sail, a melancholy, regretful crowd 


upon some hillside, when, in reality, they at this very moment 
might be making a jolly picnic holiday of the hours, sitting in 
a ring round a banquet of fruit and ship dainties, talking and 
ogling, enjoying to the very heart of them the coolness of the 
fragrant shade, and the beauty and color of the trees, and 
wild plants, after their months of salt pork and 'tween decks; 
looking forward with gay hearts to encamping for the night, 
and to choosing on the morrow, some fairy scene of estate for 
the building of houses and the digging of plantations. 




We had run the island out of sight by four o'clock, at which 
hour I was noticing, with some uneasiness, a windy appearance 
in the sky northeast. * The breeze still blew out of the south, 
a pleasant sailing wind, but the canvas we were under was 
half as much as we could have expanded, and when, with the 
help of four of the girls, I hove the log — a machine my crew 
were perfectly acquainted with the use of — I found the speed 
six, when it might easily have been made nine. 

About this hour a sail sprang up on the weather bow. I 
fetched the glass, and found she was heading directly for us. 
Anxiety was lying very heavy upon my spirits at this time. 
The sight of that sail seemed almost like a heavenly injunction 
to me to obtain the assistance of men to work the ship. Reso- 
lution will swerve though it keeps the onward path; I own my 
mind reeled to and fro while I looked at the distant sail. A 
crowd of women were about the galley door, with Kate in the 
thick of them, seeing, as I took it, that the girls' supper was 
being got ready. 

Alice Perry stood near me, her gaze fixed upon the approach- 
ing craft. I stared at her a minute, and then called her. 

* 'You're one of the most sensible of all my girls," said I. 
"Give me your opinion." 

* 'About what?" she answered, with a sudden brisk expres- 
sion in her face; for now, when I had a word of kindness, 
sympathy, or confidence for this girl, she would color and 
glow in cheeks and eyes, as though every pulse in her quick- 
ened its beat. 

"Will you girls stick to your work?" 

"Why shouldn't we?" she said. "It's light and jolly 
enough, and it aint going to last long." 


"Yonder comes a ship; a signal might bring two or three 
hands in her to help us along. What do you think?" 

••What do I think?" she cried. "Why, that you don't 
trust us." * 

"I trust you all; but have you strength and will to hold 
out? There's a month — there may be six weeks before us." 

"Have we failed you once?" 


"Look at little Ellen Clark there at the wheel! Is there 
e'er a man in that ship out there a-going to do better? Is it 
that we haven't the spirit? Then we have^ one and all! 
Some may lose it by and by, but there's others with plenty of 
courage, ready to take their places. Oh, capt'n, why, what's 
makin' your heart low all of a sudden like this?" 

She fixed her fiery eyes on me, and watched steadily. It 
was as though the strange, wild, coarse, handsome creature 
sought to stare her own burning spirit and temper out of her 
into me. I let her look, meeting her full, then smiled, but as 
I smiled she frowned, till she looked haggishly fierce and 

"It's been understood from the beginning," she cried, "that 
us girls of your crew are to sail the ship to Sydney." 

I felt a little afraid of her. 

"S'help me God!" she exclaimed, "if I had your lamin' 
'bout the sun and^ things, I'd take the ship off your 'ands, and 
save yer all the trouble. We don't want no men 'ere. We've 
had enough of that. If e'er a one comes, I and the rest will 
give up — and I don't know about that either," she cried out, 
in a voice that was beginning to attract the attention of the 
women within earshot. "What '11 ha' bin the good of us pull- 
ing and hauling, learnin' to steer, running up them ladders, if 
we're to give up when everything's settled, and all's goin' along 
sweetly nice, because, being a gentleman, you can't put your 
trust in pore girls of our class. If men are to come, fired if 
some of us don't make it too 'otfor them to be of use to yer." 

I put on a stern face, not choosing her to suppose I could 
endure such talk and airs ; but secretly I was never better 
pleased with anything than the spirit she was now showing. 
I feigned to look sullenly, as though I was offended, and 
then said: 

"Well, I hope all the rest of the girls will prove as heroic as 
you. I don't like your speech, but I love your heart;" and, 
softening my eyes, I gave her a faint smile, that she might see 
how it stood between us, and walked away. 

The ship was abreast of us in an hour ; the breeze had 



freshened out of the south, and the heel of our vessel was lift- 
ing the leeward water yellow as cream to the chain-plate bolts, 
and spinning it in a giddy dazzle of eddies off the quarters 
into a fan-shaped wake, which glanced with the glare of snow 
astern, where the blue sea was brokenly tumbling abreast of 
the moist red face of the sinking sun. 

The stranger was a big full-rigged ship, light as a cask, with 
painted ports, and half her own height of green sheathing 
showing. The sallow color of the Spaniard flew at her peak. 
She was probably from -around the Horn, for the Philippines, ; 
on a true Jack Spaniard course for those islands. My girls 
had never been taught to handle the signal halliards, and I 
made no sign. I stood close beside the helm, keeping an 
anxious eye upon the little spectacled woman Clark, ready to 
instantly grasp the wheel, if the need arose. 

The two ships passed within easy speaking distance; we 
could distinguish the faces of the people on board her. A 
whole crowd of men filled her forecastle, and a number of 
people of both sexes^surveyed us from the poop. Doubtless 
they had no difficulty in guessing what we were; the heaps of 
women on our decks would explain our character. But what 
was an English female emigrant ship doing up in these parts? 
And Sancta Maria pur issima ! who the dickens were all those 
boys, staring along the line of the poop rail? 

She yawed just before she came abreast, as though she 
would close us to see better. A nw.n sprang into the mizzen 
rigging, and yelled out; I silently flourished my hand. She 
was squat, wall-sided, a rude, square-ended wagon, with stump 
topgallant masts; but the sun cast a splendor upon her, and 
she went away clothed in beauty not her own. 

I had snatched a good view of the fellows on her forecastle, 
and observed them to be of a hairy, chocolate- colored type, 
some of them negroes; many wore the sugar-loaf hat, and sev- 
eral were hardly clothed in shirt and breeches. The sight of 
them surprisingly reconciled me to my resolution; as though 
that ship had been hove up to strengthen rather than stagger 
my scheme. All my old passion of dislike to the idea of 
loosing a strange crew of men among the girls, came upon me 
afresh. I figured half a score of those Spaniards in my fore- 
castle; I witnessed the thirsty roll of their eyes over the 
women; I imaged them coming together in a gang, just down 
there, in the shadow of the break of the forecastle, making 
their whispers tragically significant by side looks aft, and a 
frequent caress of the sheath knife strapped to their hips; I 
thought of myself unarmed — alone. 

3i8 ^ THE EMIGRANT SfflP. 

"No, by thunder, Clark," cried I to the astonished girl at 
the wheel; "Perry's right. We'll 'keep all on' as we are!" 

When the Spanish vessel had diminished into a small square 
of faint crimson light right astern, with the dark sea ridging 
between, and the line of the horizon faint and doubtful as mist 
in the west, where the sky was barred with streaks, like gashes 
of rusty, blood-red light, the dark scud out of the south pour- 
ing through the dying radiance like so much smoke, the weight 
went out of the wind on a sudden in a dead drop; and aloft 
the collapsed and startled sails beat out the thunder of twenty 
small guns, while in that strange pause the briskness left the 
surge, and it ran softly, with a sulky lift of sea to right and 
left, that made one think of a sullen pout of preparation for a 

I guessed what was to come, but whence I knew not, till a 
turn in the flight of the scud overhead gave me the news. It 
was not yet eight o'clock; Clark was still at the wheel. 

"Keep your helm as it is!" I cried to her; and shouted 
with all my lungs for Perry, Lewis, Brown, Corbin — any one 
of them to lay aft to the lee wheel. 

A girl came rushing up the poop ladder with all her might; 
it was brave little Susannah Corbin of Deal. I sprang on to 
the main deck to let go the topgallant halliards, bellowing like 
a bull to the girls to man the starboard braces and square the 

This was testing themi And splendidly the sweethearts 
responded! Many were in the forecastle when my cry 
sounded; Emmy Reed and Charlotte Brown as joint second 
mates were on the poop, when I jumped to the topgallant 
halliards; save these, and Clark at the wheel, not five of the 
girls were on deck when I shouted for a second hand to the 
wheel. But scarcely were the echoes of my voice hushed, 
when all the girls were running out of the forecastle. I 
shouted instructions as they came; one gang fled to the fore, 
another to the after braces, and ere the wind hit us I had 
trimmed sail to the flight of the scud, with the girls standing 
quiet and breathing hard at the braces, ready for further haul- 
ing in a moment. 

It was a shift of wind neither sudden, nor immediately vio- 
lent, into the northeast, and when the first slap of it was in 
our canvas I shifted the helm for a dead on-end run, satisfied 
to hold a southwest course till noon next day. Before a 
couple of hours had passed, it had hardened from a royal 
breeze into a blow that must have double reefed the topsails of 
a ship on a bowline. But we were rolling dead before it, with 


our topgallant yard hoisted afresh, and it was inexpressibly 
comforting to think, not only that this wind was rushing us 
onward toward Sydney, at ten or eleven knots in the hour, but 
that it would need to breeze up as hard again to reduce me to 
the only reefing shift it had ever been in my power to contem- 
plate; I mean lowering the topsail yards on to the caps, hauling 
out the reef tackles, and taking my chance of the rest. 

My chief anxiety was land or shoals — some low, ragged line 
of island leaping right ahead into the windy moonshine, or, 
worse still, a little tract of boiling reef, invisible till right 
under the jib boom end. There was a good binocular glass in 
the captain's berth, and again and again I took it on to th^, 
forecastle, and stared into the confused blending of moonshine 
and flying vapor and haze of wind till my eyes reeled and 
my brain was sick. 

Another huge anxiety of mine, too, on this, our first night 
of windy weather, was the helm; it takes a practiced hand to 
steer a running ship; we had a following sea now, and the 
ship's head fell off and came to as the surge underran her, 
rolling in snow to the bows, and racing aft again in shattered 
white water, like an avalanche down a mountain steep. But, 
credit me or not as you will, the girls, as they replaced- one 
another at the helm in couples — Perry and Brown, then Lewis 
and Hale, then Clark and Barker, then Corbin and iPerry 
again — for an hour's spell at a time was as long as their 
strength was equal to — these spirited, heroic, fearless creat- 
ures, dressed as men, and acting like men, revolved the spokes 
with a judgment that held me dumb, meeting her, easing her, 
keeping her nose at the mean of the swing of the points at the 
lubbers' mark, with such coolness and skill and alertness, 
there is no measure for my admiration while I recall them. 

At nine o'clock I sent for Kate, and told her to get all the 
women below out of the way of my girls, who might be easily 
thrown into confusion in the darkness should the decks be 
crowded. The women went to their quarters very obediently; 
the sudden wild weather frightened them; they were subdued 
and rendered the more tractable, too, by a sort of wondering 
admiration at the behavior of the girls of my crew. Shortly 
before ten, Kate reported that all was right in the 'tween 
decks. As Sarah Haryey had turned in, I asked Kate to get 
some wine out of the pantry, and fill the swing trays with 
refreshment for my crew during the night; this she did, also 
going into the forecastle to see that all was safe with the lamp; 
I then told her to go below to bed, and we bade each other 


It frequently rained in brief black squalls, which burst in 
guns over the quarter, and flashed in hissing shrieks into our 
whole topsails, straining them and the topgallant sail till they 
roared, and then the ship piled the water under her bows as 
high as the spritsail yard. But these spasms of weather were 
soon over; the moon shone green and clear after ten, shearing 
through the scud, which she whitened, till the heavens round 
about her seemed filled with flying steam. 

I kept the starboard watch of girls on deck ; the others I 
sent into the forecastle for rest and shelter. Even of those 
who remained, two-thirds I dispatched into the cuddy, there 
to sit and refresh themselves. At times, in some moon-bright 
interval, when the wind swept steadily and when all the ship 
needed was an amidship helm, with a keen eye upon the 
illuminated compass card and an occasional play of spoke to 
hold the mean of the oscillation true, I'd step below to say a 
cheery word to the women and keep them awake and see to 
them. The lamp burned brightly; the cuddy looked hospita- 
ble and brilliant; it was strange to see eight or ten girls, dressed 
fis men, sitting at the table, munching biscuit and beef and 
drinking the thin red wine, of which Kate had put three or 
four bottles on the swing trays. 

Once, on looking into the cuddy, I found Mary Barker 
leaning against the side asleep, with her head on Alice Perry's 
shoulder. A sudden movement of Perry awoke her; she 
started, and began to talk betwixt dreaming and waking: 

•* All right; I'm awake. Has the cook gone downstairs?" 

A shriek of laughter awoke her thoroughly. 

"Lor!" she cried, "I thought I was at Mrs. Perkins'!" 

"It'll be midnight soon, and then you'll sleep tiU four," 
said I. 

"We'll stop awake all night if you wish us to," said one 
of the girls. 

"It's better than nursing, anyway," said another. "I'd 
rather be a sailor than a sick nurse." 

'Or sleep with a baby," said one of them. 
'Capt'n," cried Alice, "you're looking hollow; why don't 
yer sleep? I'll take any oath you like to call you, if you want 
it. " I shook my head and returned on deck. 

There was to be no rest for me that night. At twelve the 
girls who lay in the forecastle came out, and the others who 
had been on the watch went to their bunks, l)dng down in 
their clothes. Most of these women of the port watch I sent 
into the cuddy for shelter and refreshments, as in the case of 
the others. In fact, I kept but two on deck (besides the girls 


at the wheel), and those I contrived to shelter by seating 
them in the companionway, with the hood up and one 
door shut. 

Throughout the hours I stood beside the wheel, seldom 
leaving it lest the nerves or muscles of the two plucky creat- 
ures who steered should fail them; when, of course, the ship 
might broach to, with a chance of being wrecked to her lower 
masts or foundering. A high sea chased us, but it was a fol- 
lowing sea, and we swung over it comfortably, nothing damp 
from "the eyes" to the taffrail but the wet of the rain, and a 
twelve-knot wake pouring off astern, lighting up the darkness 
there when a squall blackened the moon. And all the while I 
was thanking my good angel the wind blew as it did, for had 
it headed us we must have sagged away to leeward, under 
bladders of topsails, and flogging jibs and staysails; there 
would have been no virtue in reef tackles as reef -points that 
night on a wind, but for the gale chasing us the morning light 
would have disclosed aloft but little more than boltropes and 

In those long hours, while watching the ship, I'd think of 
the Brigstock party, and wonder how they were managing. 
There was wind enough to blow away a stronger habitation 
than a tent. As to their notion of my chances — if ever they 
gave us a thought — they were sailors, and would know there 
was nothing in such a blow as this to hurt a running ship, 
under such canvas as our vessel carried when they left her. 

At daybreak the wind slackened. While the dawn was 
brightening astern I saw land on the starboard bow, and rushed 
below for the chart and telescope, I had a clear conception 
of the ship's place, and was astonished and alarmed on looking 
at the chart to find that no land was marked where this was. 
As we steered we should be giving the island a wide enough 
berth, but were there sunken reefs in the neighborhood? I 
overhung the rail, and gazed with passionate anxiety ahead. 
The seas were arching everywhere in foam, but I nowhere 
caught any appearance of the boiling of water upon a shoal. 
I looked at the island through the glass, and saw some huts 
covered with reeds, and about ten or fifteen black figures run- 
ning along the shore. The land was covered with bushes and 
cocoanut trees, and the windward bit of coast was magnificent 
with the bursting of the seas upon it; the white water leaped 
up in mountains fifty feet high, and the flash of the sun made 
a huge glorious jewel of each volcanic discharge. 

The land slipped by at the rate of ten miles an hour, and 
in half that time was gone behind the ridges; but, until it van- 


ished, my heart was in my throat, for never could I tell but 
that, in the next instant, there would be the thrilling shock 
of arrest. 

All this day it blew a fresh breeze; sparkling green hills of 
water chased and helped us along; in twenty-four hours we 
made over 230 miles of westing. In the afternoon I saw the 
shadow of land on the starboard beam, and just before sun- 
down we passed an island, but it was on the chart, and I was 
prepared for it. I brought the ship's glass to bear, and dis- 
tinguished a few huts, a row of canoes on the white foreshore, 
and some red and white dogs, with one native only, close 
beside them, waving. 

I contrived, in snatches during the day, to get as much sleep 
as would enable me to keep the deck all night. ' Shortly after 
sundown the wind scanted, the sea flattened, the vapor floated 
off the face of the heavens, and we sailed in the midst of as fair 
a night as had ever darkened upon us since we entered these 
seas. Many of the women, when the dusk fell, assembled round 
the main hatch, and sang songs and hymns. I walked the deck 
with Kate for an hour, in high spirits and full of confidence. 
The test of the preceding night had been as severe as any our 
run to Sydney was likely to impose upon the girls, and they 
had responded nobly. 

"You said it might be done!" I exclaimed, **but I never 
hoped it would be so well done." 

"Almost ever since you first took charge of this ship you 
have been drilling them," said Kate. 

"Yes, there's no difficulty in learning the names of the 
ropes, and you can teach monkeys to pull and haul. But the 
wheel! Who'd dream that girls, in two months, should get 
the art of the helm as my seven have it? Look how finely 
that woman poses herself at the spokes," said I, and we 
paused to look at the figure at the wheel. 

The boyish outline was clear against the stars ; in the sheen 
of the binnacle lamp, her white face sank and rose as she car- 
ried her eyes from the card to the canvas. I watched a star at 
the crossjack yardarm, and marked the pendulum accuracy of 
its motions there as it swung to the heave of the ship, and its 
oscillation was true to a hair. 

No old seaman could keep a vessel steadier to it," said I; 
who's the girl?" 

We walked aft; it was Alice Perry. 
Hard lines that the chief mate of a ship should have to 
steer her," said I, laughing. "I'm afraid I've spoiled 

< < 


**Haveyou?** she answered. 

"You'll not take to service after this?" 

P'raps not," she replied. 

* 'You'll go dressed as a man through life, and some day 
command a ship, ' ' said Kate. 

The girl strained her eyes through the sheen, but made no 

Five or six of the **crew" were walking about the poop. 
One of them suddenly cried out: 'What's that?" 

I said: **What do you see?" 

She answered, ** Isn't that a fire there?" 

**It's the moon rising," exclaimed Kate. 

I took the glass from the skylight, and resolved the little 
globe-shaped glow upon the horizon into a small tongue of 
flame, and after I had looked a minute I distinguished the 
black dye of land. It was in the north; a few minutes later a 
dim purple blush upon the horizon, over the starboard quar- 
ter, reddened into a scar of moon. The fragment of orb, 
bloated, distorted, soared off the rim of the sea; there was, at 
this time, a great hush upon the ship; the women on the main 
deck, the girls aft, all of us were silent, watching the moon 
rise or the distant native fire. 

It was then there sounded, in the air overhead, such another 
long-drawn peculiar moaning noise as had run like a sound of 
lamentation through the Atlantic hush on that night which 
preceded the suicide of Mary Lonney, and my being sent 
adrift by Brigstock. Doubtless it proceeded from some invis- 
ible concourse of wild fowl winging to an island ; it's a sign 
that an island is uninhabited when you see many birds hover- 
ing over it; a number of uninhabited islands there were in 
those days hereabouts, and that strange, melancholy cry echo- 
ing through the silent wind over our trucks was undoubtedly 
the piping of some migratory procession of seafowl traveling 
by night for a reason known to themselves. 

The sound was miserably dismal, the girls on the poop, 
while listening to it, crowded together as though terrified; and 
we all stared upward, but nothing was to be seen there save a 
beautiful field of stars. 

"Hollo!" cried I. * 'Where's the ship going to?" 

I looked round and sprang to the wheel. Alice Perry had 
fallen on her knees beside it, and with her face buried in ther 
hands was sobbing hysterically. I brought the ship to her 
course, while Kate and a dozen others gathered around that 
strange, kneeling, weeping, boyish figure, 

**What is it, dear?" cried one, 


* 'What's the matter with her?" exclaimed another in a 
voice of awe. 

Kate knelt beside the sobbing girl, and soothingly addressed 
and caressed her; but she held her face obstinately buried and 
made no reply, only that she went on crying as though her 
heart was breaking. Then all at once springing to her feet, 
she exclaimed: 

**It*s nothing. It's all right now. Let me be, I tell yer! 
Leave me alone, will yer; I want air!" and she went to the 
rail and overhung it. 

The island with the native signal fire burning was doubtless 
Elizabeth Island; as I hoped there might be nothing to fear in 
the way of shoals this side the Four Crowns, which were a 
day's sail ahead, I altered the course to the southward by a 
point and a half, then called to Corbin and delivered the wheel 
up to her. Kate wanted to talk to me about the singular 
wailing noise up in the air; it was time, however, for the 
women to go below, and I asked her to see to it, and report 
the lights safe, and tell the women that the sound was made 
by birds and not by ghosts, as I guessed many of them imagined. 

**We heard the same noise that night Mary Lonney cut her 
throat," said Kate as she was going. "I hope it *11 be no ill- 
omen this time." 

Perry stood alone at the rail right aft on the quarter; the 
hearty little Deal girl grasped the wheel; others of the women 
crew stood about the deck staring at the signal fire, and talk- 
ing about the sighing noise that had passed through the air. 
It was the influence of that noise still acting upon my nerves 
which made me find the ship a solemn visionary picture at this 
time, as though she had gathered from the starshine and the 
dusk and the distorted corner of moon astern, some quality of 
mystery which carried her out of nature. The moon made no 
light as yet, and the vessel swam in shadow; she lifted and fell 
upon the long black heave of the sea, her canvas pulling 
steadily, and a little curl of dim fire shone under either bow. 
The point of light, sparkling upon the low, inky dye of land, 
made a romantic wonder and even horror of the gloom there, 
with its suggestion of the savage cannibal spirit, and midnight 
rites and orgies without a name. 

** What's the matter with you, Alice?" said I, going to her 
side and putting my hand upon her shoulder. 

She made no answer. 

"Did that strange noise overhead just now scare you?" 

"No," she replied quickly. "Can't people wish themselves 
dead without being interfered with?" 


"Why, my brave little woman, what's raised that ugly 

**I wish I'd never been born," she exclaimed. 

"So do most of us. You're hysterical. Come into the 
cuddy, and I'll give you a little brandy and water." 

**I don't want anything. Isn't it beastly hard upon a girl 
that she should havp feelin's, and not know words to speak 
'em with? If Miss Darnley had my thoughts she'd make her- 
self sweet to you with her language. She's a lady, and her 
father was a parson. Mine was a baker, which died of drink 
and left me to the parish. Why should there be such a differ- 
ence ? Them stars are pretty much alike ; some are brighter 
than t'others — that's only 'cause they're nearer; they all shine; 
but it aint so with people. Don't I know 'ow you're laughin' 
in your 'art at me when you hear me talk, though your breedin' 
keeps your face calm. ' ' 

"Don't be a fool. I^admire and respect you, so does Miss 
Darnley. All must who know you. Nature has made you a 
lady, and you're grumbling because she hasn't acted school- 
mistress as well as mother." 

"Don't talk rubbidge. A baker's brat a lady!" 

Her eyes glowed in the starlight, as they stared at me in her 
white face, under the shaggy heap of hair upon her brow. She 
suddenly softened her voice, and said, *'I'm sorry I let go the 
wheel. Yer angry with me for that." 

"I could be angry with you for nothing but temper and 
silliness. To listen to you, who have the heart of a heroine, 
with a finer spirit than ever I've met with in your own sex — to 
listen toyaUy of them all on. board, talking twaddle! Come 
below. I'll give you a small glass of brandy. Then turn 


She eyed me steadfastly while I spoke. 

"I suppose," said she, *if ever we gets to Australia you'll 
stop there a little, and then go 'ome?" 

"Why, yes, I hope to go home." 

"Shall you marry Miss Darnley there, or take her 'ome 

"Never you mind," said I, laughing and looking round 
toward the wheel, for Corbin was not out of earshot, though 
she was, perhaps, too occupied by her duty to hear us. 

'Ow long have you known her before you met her here?" 
No chief mate is permitted to cross-examine his captain in 
this fashion," said I; then fearing if I made her sulky she'd 
breed trouble among the others, I said, "I'm grateful to you, 
and as fond as I ought to be. They shall make a lady of you 

1 1 »/ 


in Sydney. What should I have done without you?*' and I 
took her hand. 

She snatched it from me with a shudder, buried her face, 
then went forward. 

Soon after she was gone I heard a faint distant hallooing out 
upon the sea; it sounded as though it came from midway the 
ship and the low black shadow of island with the sparkle upon 
it ; it was nearer however than that, as I had afterward reason 
to suppose. 

I pointed the glass at the place where the hallooing seemed 
to sound, imagining that some small colonial trader was there, 
but seeing nothing I concluded the shouts came from a canoe. 
The idea of a swarm of savages drawing within arrow shot — 
fifty or a hundred of them for all I could tell, so thick was the 
dusk upon the face of the water, would have frightened me 
horribly but for our rate of going ; I looked over the side and 
calculated in the passage of the stars of seafire a full six, and I 
guessed that at that^ if ever a chase was entered on we'd soon 
be alone again. 

Three times I heard that distant faint hallooing. Corbin 
asked what it was; none of the others about the decks seemed 
to heed it. 

Kate arrived, and said all was right in the 'tween decks. 
Have you looked into the forecastle?" 
No," she answered. 

'Alice Perry's been talking very queerly; she's gone for- 
ward with her eyes on fire and a hand of ice. She is ill, or 
going to be. Step forward, will you, dear, and tell me how 
she does? She is a valuable hand, worth cherishing." 

She went away without a word. Her silence was like a 
sulky look. 

I stepped to the rail, and stared at the water in the direction 
whence the hallooing had come. In about a quarter of an hour 
Kate returned. She told me that Alice Perry was lying down, 
and seemed well. 

**She asked me," said she, "to beg you to forgive her for 
speaking rudely." 

**Chaw! a poor servant girl!" said I. 

We bade each other good-night, and she went to her 

The moon was now glowing with some power; the island 
had veered on to our quarter, and was just under the moon, 
like a little dusky cloud, with a faint sheet of greenish radi- 
ance trembling under it. I noticed a tiny black spot in the 
midst of that dim luster, and on pointing my telescope saw it 


was a canoe ; it seemed motionless while I watched, and pres- 
ently the passage of our ship swept it into the shadow and I 
lost it. 

I replaced Corbin at the wheel by Barker, and told two of 
the women to keep a bright lookout, while I went on to the 
forecastle to take a view of the sea ahead. Nothing was to be 
seen from either bow. I let my naked sight sink into the 
obscurity, then swept with the telescope (over and over again 
at night at sea the telescope has found me objects I had missed 
with the binocular glass). All was wide sea, darkling to the 

The scuttle, as the forecastle hatch is called, lay open; I 
had no thought of prying into the privacy of the girls down 
there, but, imagining that the lamp was making too strong a 
light, I stopped and peered into the hatch, and saw Alice 
Perry seated on the deck writing on the flyleaf of a book, 
with the forecastle lamp beside her. This was highly improper 
and dangerous; but as I did not wish to provoke her tongue 
after what had already passed, I went aft quickly and told one of 
the girls to run forward and hook the lamp to its lanyard again. 

**If Perry resists," said 1, **come to me." 

When the girl returned, she told me she found the lamp 
hanging under the beam as usual, and Perry getting into her 

"All right," said I, and went aft, musing on the picture of 
Perry seated on the deck, and wondering what on earth she 
had written. It was news, indeed, to discover that the girl 
could even read. There was a grating over the tiller, and I 
got upon it to sit and smoke and doze. I was close to the 
wheel, and needed but to stretch my neck to see the compass 
card. I was awakened from a short nap by Marshall coming 
to relieve the helm. I talked with her a while, took a turn, 
smiled at the sight of three of my crew sound asleep on the 
skylight, and two of them nodding with their backs against 
the companion, then returned to the grating and smoked and 
meditated, with an occasional spell of forty winks between 
whiles as before. 

I had borrowed a watch from one of the women, and look- 
ing at it by and by found it was midnight. I called out at the 
top of my voice that it was eight bells; the sleepers awoke, 
half the watch came out of the cuddy, and the whole wearied 
lot of them went forward. After a bit three or four girls of 
the other watch came on to the poop. One of them was Flo* 
Lewis, who, while approaching the wheel, stooped and peered, 
and exclaimed; 


•'Isn't Perry here?" 

''No," I answered, going to her. "Marshall's at the 

"Then where' s Perry, captain?" said Lewis. 

"Isn't she in the forecastle?" 


I walked to the break of the poop and called for Alice 
Perry. The name was caught up, and shrilly repeated by 
some girls on the main deck. I said to someone who stood 

"Run below and tell Miss Darnley that Perry's missing, 
and ask her to search the 'tween decks." 

I then went forward slowly, looking to right and left of me, 
for the girl had a fierce spirit, and I couldn't guess what hellish 
intention might be covered by this hiding of herself. I peered 
warily and eagerly into the darkness about the foremast and 
galley till I came to the forecastle, where I halted and asked 
permission to enter. A number of voices called to me to 
come in. 

Thirteen or fourteen young women, looking for all the world 
like stout, well-grown boys in their clothes, were here, a few 
sitting in their bunks, most of them standing. They were 
talking about Alice Perry. 

"What's become of the girl?" said I. "Are you sure she's 
not in her bed hidden under a blanket?" 

"That's where she sleeps," said one of the women, pointing 
to a bunk in the fore part of the interior. "I take turn and 
turn with her in that shelf. Her coat's there." 

"Her coat!" I walked to the bunk and picked up the gar- 
ment, and saw a piece of paper pinned to the sleeve. I 
brought it to the light, and read, faintly penciled in an extra- 
ordinary, unformed handwriting, these words: 

I kil myself for ef I dont I shall kil K. D. let CM. gess what for I 
keeps my own Secrait and carries my poor soul before Gord pure. 

A. P. 

"She's committed suicide!" I said. 

"There now!" shrieked a girl. "I told yer that noise 
meant the death of one of us." 

I walked out and the women followed me, silent with hor- 
ror. I had scarcely gained the poop when Kate joined me. 

"Alice Perry is not in our quarters," she said. 

I took her to the binnacle and gave her the paper to read 
by the lamplight there, and left her while I thoroughly 
searched the ship. 


I called some of the girls to me, and we explored every nook 
and corner of the cuddy and steerage; I caused the 'tween 
decks to be searched afresh. I overhauled the forecastle 
again, looked into the galley, ran aloft, fancying she might be 
hiding in the tops or crosstrees. Then^ knowing quite surely 
she was not in the ship, I realized what had happened, and 
how; she had crept through the hatch out of the forecastle, 
and so got into the head of the ship, and dropped silently 
overboard ! 

Could nothing be done? It might have happened an hour 
before our discovery of it! The ship's speed was six knots; 
the women knew nothing about lowering and handling a boat. 
Had she taken the plunge but five minutes before we missed 
her, still there would have been no more chance of rescuing 
her, though she floated alive within the ship's own length, 
than of putting life into her body had we picked her up dead. 



**The emigrant ship Earl of Leicester arrived at this port 
early yesterday morning. She left the Thames with ninety 
unmarried female emigrants at the close of March last. When 
she had reached a few degrees south of the equator she was 
struck by lightning, which killed the surgeon (Rolt), blinded 
the captain (Halcrow), and in some manner so injured the 
chief officer, Mr. Jonathan Billing, as to affect his brain, and 
shortly after the disaster the unfortunate gentleman threw 
himself overboard and perished. 

"Captain Halcrow was, at his own request, transferred to a 
homeward-bound ship. Among those who went in the boat 
with him were Mr. Jeremy Latto, the second mate, and James 
Cox, the boatswain. A heavy squall separated the vessels ; 
dark, tempestuous weather followed, and the female emigrants 
found themselves adrift, in company with a diminished crew 
of sailors and without a navigator ! 

**The ship was in this helpless state for ten days, in which 
time the crew, having plenty of leisure for thought, plotted 
with the ship's carpenter, Brigstock, to settle an island in the 
South Pacific. They chose twelve (afterward thirteen) 
women from among the emigrants. The girls, it is said, read- 
ily consented to become their wives. Many were jealous 


because they were not chosen. Of such is the nature of the 
female domestic. 

"The most extraordinary part remains. Since the crew 
could not manage to reach the Pacific without a navigator, 
they determined to steal one. A bark named the Carolitu^ of 
four hundred tons, hove in sight. All the female emigrants 
were ordered below, the hatches closed, and a signal of dis- 
tress hoisted. The bark sent her mate, Mr. Charles Morgan, 
to see what was wrong; he was conducted into the cabin, 
locked up, and the crew then sailed away with him. Finding 
himself helpless in the sailors' hands, and having already 
undergone an even wilder and more terrible experience, so 
that he felt careless as to what new adventure he embarked 
on providing it was honest, Mr. Morgan consented to navi- 
gate the ship to an island. 

"Soon after he took command, he trained a number of the 
women as sailors. He foresaw that when the crew left the 
vessel she would require fresh hands ; he was determined to 
take no risks of South Sea rowdyism and ruffianism into his 
forecastle, with a number of women in the ship, a valuable, or 
at least a useful cargo in the hold, and himself the only officer 
on board. They rounded the Horn in June, and fell in with 
an island that suited them in the middle of July. Brigstock 
and his party went ashore, carrying with them about fifty tons 
of the Earl of Leicester's cargo. The situation of the. place 
will not be got from Mr. Morgan; an oath of secrecy >was 
imposed upon him by Brigstock and the crew in the presence 
of the women, and though it is true that 

Vows made in pain, ease will recant 
As violent and void ; 

yet Mr. Morgan shows a proper sense of honor and of the 
value of an oath by declining to supply any clew to the where- 
abouts of Brigstock's settlement. The women have been 
questioned, but their descriptions are imperfect and convey 
no ideas upon which a theory of the island's situation can be 
based. They speak of it as hilly and well-wooded; so are 
most of the islands. It is more than probable, however, that 
his Excellency will send a vessel to search for the party. 

"The ship's agents are Messrs. Norton & Jackson, and the 
consignee of the cargo is the Government Emigration Agent. 
It is not conceivable that these gentlemen will accept the 
crew's plea, as stated by Mr. Morgan, and submit to be 
defrauded on the grounds, first, that money in wages is due to 


the crew, next that they have a claim as salvors of property, 
third, as salvors of life. 

"To proceed: after the Brigstock party had landed, Mr. 
Morgan continued the voyage to this port, himself being the 
only man in the ship; his crew consisted of thirty girls, who, 
that they might not be inconvenienced by their petticoats in 
running about, were dressed in male attire, of which a large 
quantity forms a portion of the vessel's lading. Our readers 
will probably receive our assurance with incredulity; it is 
nevertheless the fact that Mr. Morgan navigated the vessel 
through several thousand miles of ocean with the assistance of 
his crew of women only ! The thing is unprecedented. We 
are acquainted with but one marine incident which at all cor- 
responds with it; we refer to the case of the female convict 
ship mentioned by Mrs. Colonel Elwood in her narrative of 
a journey to India in 1828. 'A number of female convicts,* 
she says, 'having seized the vessel they were in, the deter- 
mined Amazon, their leader, with her own hands cut off the 
head of the captain, and then, forcing the crew to navigate the 
vessel, carried it in triumph into a South American port, 
where the heroine is now established as the mistress of a hotel. ' 
This is terrific; it is not even wanting in the sublime, but it is 
deficient in the heroic. The female convicts, as we have seen, 
compelled the men to work the ship. In Mr. Morgan's case, 
the girls themselves did all the pulling and hauling, and in 
moderate weather the furling, for it is stated that he had 
taught some of them to stow the mizzen, topgallant sail, and 
royal, while it is certain that seven of them proved as expert 
at the helm as any master could wish his sailors to be. 

**The women, on their arrival, were sent by the agent to the 
Immigration Depot, where they have been visited by crowds 
of people. Many of them have already obtained engagements. 
Mr. Morgan has not a single case of sickness to report during 
the voyage. Strangely enough there were two suicides, each 
of them rendered remarkable by a melancholy prophetic wail- 
ing in the air, heard by all hands on the nights preceding the 
tragic occurrences. One of the girls, Mary Lonney, cut her 
throat with a table knife, while she lay on the sleeping shelf 
with her companions; it is universally allowed by the women 
that she was insane. The other, Alice Perry, drowned her- 
self on the second night following the ship's departure from 
the island, by silently lowering herself over the bows and 
dropping into the sea. 

'*The scene of leave-taking between Mr. Morgan and the 
women whom he has served so nobly was exceedingly inter- 


esting and moving. They crowded about him, they kissed 
his hands, many saluted his cheeks ; they blessed him again 
and again, coming back a dozen times to bless him once more 
and press his hand. The ship will immediately begin to dis- 
charge, and then load wool for London. It is almost certain 
that the command of her will be given to Mr. Charles Morgan, 
who holds a certificate as a master-mariner." 

So ran the account of the ship's arrival and voyage to Syd- 
ney from Bull's Island, as printed in the Sydney Morning 
Herald of that date. 

It was the morning following our arrival in Sydney Bay. 
All the women had gone ashore on the preceding afternoon- 
Kate among them. I had asked her what she meant to do. 

"Mean to do!" she replied with a look of wonder. **I 
shall go with the rest to the Immigration Depot, and stop 
there till somebody hires me as a governess." 

"Very well," said I; "but you'll let me have your address 
should you be quickly engaged?" 

"Where shall I send it?" 

"Address me to the care of Messrs. Norton & Jackson." 

After a few more sentences to the above effect, we had 
parted, she having stood aloof while all the rest were crowd- 
ing about me; then, when they were gone, coming to me. 

We had entered the Heads on Monday, at dawn of day, 
August 28, 1 851; this was Tuesday, the 29th, a lovely clear 
morning. A hundred pleasure boats whitened the bright blue 
waters of the magnificent harbor; the coves were filled with 
shipping; crowds of boats hovered about us, their occupants 
staring with devouring eyes at the Earl of Leicester. Men and 
women were galloping on horseback along the crescent-shaped 
slips of land. The gleam of white houses amid the thick foli- 
age, the sweeping bays wooded to the very sip of the surf, the 
carriages appearing and disappearing among the trees, the 
crowds of people, many -colored with military uniforms, and 
the gay apparel of women, walking to and fro upon a prome- 
nade close to the town, formed a picture infinitely refreshing, 
as you will suppose, to my eyes, worn dim with the ceaseless 
lookout I had been forced to keep, and with the hundred days 
of ocean I had lived through. 

I was talking to Mr. Jackson, one of the ship's agents, on 
the poop, recounting all the particulars of my voyage, not 
omitting my experience on board the Hebe^ and was explaining 
why it was that many leaves of the log book were torn out, and 
no entries made since the Brigstock lot had left the ship, when 


a short man in a white hat and a yejlow coat, and a head 
round as a cannon-ball, very blue where the cheek was shaved, 
and the eyes small, black, and sharp, came over the side, and 
stepped on to the poop. He saluted me with a low theatrical 
bow, and then nodded to Mr. Jackson as though knowing him. 

"I have the honor, I believe," said he, **of addressing 
Captain Charles Morgan?'* 

I answered that was so. 

"May I be permitted, sir, to shake the hand of a living 

He advanced his arm, and we shook hands. 

**My name, sir, is Levy.*' (This was not his name, but it 
will serve). "I'm manager of the Theater Royal. My object 
in intruding's this: I've *ad an interview with the Immigration 
Agent, and he's willing the 'eroic young parties as formed 
your crew — wonderful thing, sir, most wonderful, indeed!" he 
ejaculated, interrupting himself to gaze along the deck, and 
then up aloft, "shall appear, in the male clothes which they 
wore during the voyage, upon the stage of my theater, at a 
performance to be given for their benefit." 

"What do the girls say?" said Mr. Jackson. 

"All, with the exception of five, are at the depot. They are 
proud and *appy to oblige. The other five are easily assembled 
— making twenty-nine in all. Sorry to hear you lost the favor- 
ite. If Alice Perry was what they tell me, she should have 
'ad ten pound a week. Captain, I'm 'ere to ask you to do me 
the honner, to do the town of Sydney the honner, to appear 
upon my stage in company with your crew. What a picture 
it *11 make, sir!" he cried, addressing Mr. Jackson, with a grin 
of triumphant enjoyment of the vision of it. 

'*Not for all the value of the wool in this colony," said I. 

"How, sir?" he cried, with a tragic start. 

I gave him "No" again very warmly. 

"But," he exclaimed, with a look of decision, "you'll not 
object to occupying a box?" 

"How do you know?" said I. 

However, on his representing that the whole receipts of the 
performance, without deduction of any sort, would be handed 
over to the women, and that my absence must lessen the 
attraction of the exhibition, I consented to be present. 

Mr. Levy then shook hands with me and went on shore, 
after saying I should hear from him when he had fixed a night. 

Next morning, having some leisure, I walked to the Immi- 
gration Depot, a large, walled barrack, where single females, 
on the arrival of an emigrant ship, were lodged, boarded, and 


looked after ; I hoped to see Kate, having something on my 
mind to communicate, but I arrived too late; twenty minutes 
earlier a lady had called in a carriage to drive her to Darling- 
hurst, to settle, as I understood, the terms of an engagement. 

This same day I was informed by Mr. Jackson that the 
command of the Earl of Leicester was mine, and that I was to 
carry her home with a caFgo of wool, tallow, horns, and other 
Australian produce. I believe but for this offer I should 
have been tempted to try my luck at the gold diggings. In the 
preceding May gold had been discovered in the Bathhurst dis- 
trict, and the colony, at this time, was crazy over the find. 
Trade was almost paralyzed by the desertion of labor. A blue 
and red serge shirt, a cabbage-tree hat, a leather belt, gold 
digging gloves, a pair of mining boots, and a couple of blank- 
ets, topped with a thirty shilling license for the privilege to 
dig, sufficed to equip a man for the realization of wealth 
beyond the dreams of avarice. Nothing sobered me but the 
agent's offer. It came not one hour too soon. Mr. Jackson 
had advanced some money to me, and I should have been off 
next day for Wellington, or Ballarat, or Geelong, but for the 
Earl of Leicester, 

But having accepted the post, I became straightway a very 
busy man. Then people of Sydney would have made much 
of me. I received dozens of invitations to dinner ; a score of 
houses were opened to me ; the proprietor of Petty *s Hotel 
begged me to use his house, free of all charge, while I was in 
Sydney; but I dined nowhere save at Mr. Jackson's and one 
or two other houses; I lived on board the ship, and wanted no 
better home. 

Three days after I had called upon Kate at the Immigration 
Depot, I received a letter from her; she had accepted a situa- 
tion as governess to the children of a family living at Darling- 
hurst; she did not yet know whether she would like the place. 
They gave her twenty-five pounds a year, which did not seem 
more than the pay of such posts in England. She congratu- 
lated me upon having obtained command, asked me to let her 
know the day on which the ship sailed, and hoped I would 
call and say good-by before I left. 

I read the letter with a smile. In every word of it was the 
same spirit which had confined her to the dark, melancholy 
'tween decks when the bright, cheerful cuddy was at her ser- 

I was busy with the affairs of the ship one morning, within 
a week of our arrival, when Mr. Norton, one of the agents, 
came on board, and told me that his Excellency, Sir Charles 


Augustus Fitzroy, Governor of New South Wales, would be 
glad to see me if I called upon him that afternoon. 

Accompanied by Mr. Norton, I attended at Government 
House, a fine building with great staring windows. My 
reception was very flattering and gratifying. Sir Charles was 
one of the finest, most accomplished gentlemen I ever met, or 
my slender social experience could figure. He introduced 
me to Lady Mary Fitzroy, and I passed an hour with them, 
going over the ground which you have traversed in this 

I perceived that his Excellency was extremely anxious to 
leam the situation of Brigstock's island, but his courtesy and 
high sense of honor would not suffer him to question me. He 
was much amused by my representation of Brigstock's scheme, 
and said that it would be a bad lookout for the hopes of that 
patriarch and father if news of the gold find reached the settle- 
n^ent; * 'for, in that case, they'll not long remain there," said he. 

I asked if steps would be taken to discover the island, and 
bring the settlers to Sydney? He said yes. He shook me 
cordially by the hand, and made me many handsome compli- 
ments when I took my leave. 

I had no idea, however, until some days afterward, that this 
agreeable reception was no more than the engaging preface to 
an honor, and to an expression of public feeling, the time, the 
manner, the circumstance of which I cannot recall without 
emotion. It happened too long ago to bring modesty into 
question in the narrative of it. 

I went to dine with Mr. Jackson at his house in Lyon's Ter- 
race; the day was Tuesday. Before we repaired to the dining 
room, Mr. Jackson said: 

"You are to receive a fine compliment, Captain Morgan; I 
hope you won't decline it." 

"What is it, sir?" 

"The inhabitants of Sydney have subscribed a purse for you, 
and his Excellency has expressed his willingness to present it 
publicly, at the Theater Royal." 

"He is very kind, and so are the inhabitants of Sydney," 
said I, feeling uncomfortably nervous and pale on a sudden. 
"Of course, if it is the general wish — indeed the part Sir 
Charles takes lays a command upon me — what shall I be 
expected to do?" 

"Smile, and pocket the money." 

"No speech?" 

"Oh, a few manly sentences." 

My throat felt dry. 


• <Tt. 

'I'd rather sail the Earl of Leicester round the world with 
six women for a crew, than face it," said I. 

•'Tut, tut! Besides, it will be a fine advertisement for the 
ship, both here and at home." 

I shrugged my shoulders. But the long and short of it was, 
Mr. Jackson meant that I should accept, and seeing that he 
represented the owners, of the Earl of Leicester ^ there was 
nothing for it but expostulation and submission. 

While lunching at Petty's Hotel next day, I heard that 
Mr. Levy, of the Theater Royal, was at the bottom of this 
theatrical presentation. The Mayor of Sydney headed the 
subscription list, and Mr. Levy had- postponed the exhibition 
of my sailor crew till my presence was to be secured on the 
stage. I suppose the rogue guessed I was bound to consent 
to any programme the governor approved and was willing to 
figure in. The fact is, as it afterward turned out, Levy had 
offered engagements to several of my crew of women to act in 
a nautical drama he and another had planned, and our benefit 
was intended as his advertisement. 

'*You can't trust 'em," the master of a ship said, to me in 
the course of a chat about this benefit and Levy's motives. 
** There's a verse in the New Testament that fits all that sort 
of philanthropists"; and he quoted in a deep sea voice, ^*This' 
he said^ not that he cared for the poor , but because he was a thief 



The benefit and presentation were fixed by his Excellency 
to take place on a Monday evening, that is about ten or twelve 
days after the arrival of the ship at Sydney. In all this time, 
owing to my having had scarcely an hour to myself, I had seen 
nothing of Kate Darnley; a few letters had passed between us, 
and I was aware that she was fairly comfortable, though I 
found no note of good spirits in what she wrote. When I was 
informed that Monday was the night of the presentation, I 
asked her, in a letter, to attend the theater with me. She 
wrote yes, requested me to fetch her, and inclosed an invita- 
tion to dinner from Mrs. Carey, in whose family she was 

On Monday afternoon I drove to Mrs. Carey's villa in Dar- 
linghurst. Kate received me alone in the drawing room. She 
was dressed in white, ready for the play; not a shilling's worth 


of jewelry was on her, save a plain ring and a little brooch 
which had been her mother's. She wore some lovely red 
flower of those lands in her rich black hair; her eyes were soft 
and wistful ; I missed the clear light that glowed in them at 
sea. She looked sweet and well; a fine full figure of a girl, 
and ^ lady. 

"This," said I, as I gazed round the charmingly furnished 
apartment, "is almost as brilliant and breezy as the cuddy of 
the Earl of Leicester, Are you kindly treated?" 

''Very kindly." 

"Are you happy?'' 

"I am now," she answered. 

I misunderstood her, and said, You must give yourself 
time to find people out." 

"I don't mean that. I am happy now because you're here. 

It does me good to see you. I am at Blathford again " 

she broke off. 

"I would have been with you every day, but could not" 

"When do you sail?" 

"The date's not yet fixed; in eight or ten weeks hence, I 
dare say." Finding her silent, I said, "Have you made any 
friends? People, I mean, who ask you to their houses, and 
cultivate you for yourself?" 

"No, nor am I likely to do so as a governess. Those I 
have met are stiff and distant. I don't fancy they want poor 
ladies out here. The position is a false one in England; it is 
falser still in this country. I feel as though people walked 
around me, and eyed me from head to heel, saying, 'What's 
this? It's not a servant or a working woman. It can't be a 
lady, because it's poor, and lives by teaching. What, then, 
is it?' That's how they make me feel." 

"Kate, what will grieve you more than people's behavior is 
the thought that England is sixteen thousand miles off." 

"Don't speak of it!" she cried quickly, with a passionate 
shake of her head, as though angered by some sudden trouble 
of tears. "Let it be as far distant as the moon. I am as 
friendless there as here. What has distance to do with the 
sorrows or happiness of such as I? Distance is not time." 

"Kate, when I am in England you'll not be without a 
friend there," said I. 

She looked at me peevishly, went to the window, and 
exclaimed: "Is not this a sweet picture of a garden?" 
Not so sweet as a garden I know at Blathford." 
'Look at those heavenly little green parrots! How mer- 
rily they whistle ! I am getting to know many of the names 


deprives me of utterance, and my tongue feels to be coiled up 
like a rope that wants the turns taken out of it." 

"Say little, and think only of what you say, not at all of 
those who listen. Have you got a speech by heart?" 

* 'Twenty, and I forget them all!" 

At this moment the orchestra played **God save the Queen," 
and Sir Charles and Lady Mary and two or three others, all 
brilliant in uniform, her ladyship gorgeous in satin and spark- 
ling ornaments, entered a large stage box almost abreast of 
the one we occupied. I kept out of sight, and Kate sat well 

The curtain rose upon a nautical drama. It was called 
"Tempest Tossed." I suppose there is nothing in the world's 
literature so bad as the British nautical drama, and there 
could be nothing in the British nautical drama worse than 
"Tempest Tossed." It contained a libel on us gentlemen of 
the jacket, in the character of a mate, who four or five times 
during the performance ran up out of a trap door, chased by 
black beetles, and mad with delirium tremens; in vain the 
wretch tried to cast himself overboard; the manly, bawling 
crew (how that crew bawled) hauled him back, and remorse- 
lessly flung him down again through the trap door to his hell 
of vermin. 

However, even the worst of the acting was handsomely 
applauded; everything pleased; when a piece of the scenery 
stuck they cheered it. The curtain fell at ten o'clock, and I 
observed a movement in his Excellency's box, and fancied I 
caught a vision of Mr. Levy's face among the uniforms. Sud- 
denly the orchestra struck up "Hearts of Oak," the curtain 
rose, and my spirits sank. All this while the pit and gallery 
were roaring, for when the curtain rose this was the picture it 
exposed: at the back was a representation, very well done, of 
Sydney Bay, with the Earl of Leicester at anchor; the colors 
of all nations were draped on either hand, and to left and 
right, in front of the stage, hung huge British ensigns, the 
crimson cross, the royal standard, and other flags of our 
country. On each side of the stage were grouped the girls 
who had formed my crew. Levy had collected them all, and 
there they were ! Yes ! There was Emmy Reed, and there 
was Charlotte Brown, and brave little Susannah Corbin, Fanny 
Pike, Mabel Marshall — the whole of them saving Alice Perry; 
all dressed in the clothes they had worn at sea. 

But even while I was looking, and while the pit and gallery 
were thundering, the door of our box was opened, and Mr. Levy 
entered to bear me away to the stage. I followed, with the 


sensations of a malefactor who walks from h!s cell to the place 
where he is to be pinioned. Mr. Levy sought to cheer me up, 
and, when we were arrived behind the scenes, he gave me a 
bumper of champagne. I heard somebody talking on the 
stage; there was now a profound stillness in the house. I 
approached the "wings," and perceived a gentleman in a frock 
coat close to the footlights, addressing the audience. I asked 
Mr. Levy what the gentleman was doing. He said he was 
relating the story of the adventures of the Earl of Leicester. 
The gentleman was frequently interrupted by clapping and 
cheers. Mr. Levy told me the speaker was a distinguished 
tragedian, Mr. Littleworth; he had been sent to this country 
in trouble, and on his enlargement had betaken himself to 
the stage. He declaimed with a deep, thrilling voice that 
reminded me of Brigstock's. 

I was too nervous to heed him, and all the while was trying 
to hearten myself by looking at the girls of my crew, many of 
whom stood- plain in my sight, though they could not see me. 
Presently Mr. Littleworth ceased; this was the dreaded "cue." 

"Now, captain," said Mr. Levy, and marched me right on 
to the middle of the stage. 

I do not recollect what then exactly happened. I was car- 
ried down to the orchestra, which struck up at sight of me, 
and the noise was deafening, while the hurrahs! roared in the 
building like the bellowing of a Horn gale through naked spars. 

Mr. Levy led me to the box where sat the governor, who 
arose, amid a profound stillness, and addressed me. The 
newspapers printed a full account of this presentation, but 
why should I inflict the speeches upon you? Enough if I say 
that Sir Charles, after speaking for about a quarter of an hour, 
handed me a purse of seven hundred guineas, "in testimony 
of the admiration felt by the people of Sydney, for my having 
delivered, from a situation of terrible peril, between seventy 
and eighty helpless female emigrants, who, but for the judg- 
ment I had exhibited, might have suffered even a worse fate 
than shipwreck." 

All this was well understood, and it was true ! 

I stuttered out a few sentences of thanks, though I was 
afterward told I did not make so ill a figure as I had supposed. 

When the presentation was over, the curtain fell amid a 
fresh outburst of roaring, but for another quarter of an hour I 
was occupied behind the scenes in shaking hands with my girls, 
asking them questions, and drinking their health in champagne. 

In the lobby of the theater, while on my way with Kate to 
the carriage I had hired, we met Mr. and Mrs, Carey, who 


wanted to drive us home; but my opportunities for seeing 
Kate were few, and I wished to be alone with her. Then 
would I take a bed at their house in Darlinghurst? I accepted 
the offer with thanks. They got into their landau, and Kate 
and I followed in a cab. 

I pulled out the purse, and, by the help of the lampposts we 
passed, found that the gift was in notes, with fifty pounds in 
gold and odd money to make up the guineas. 

"What do you think of it all?" said I to Kate, while I 
pocketed the money. 

"I'm very glad you're so fortunate." 

"Nothing of it's deserved, I suppose? It's all luck!" 

"A bit of both," she answered. 

"Did I make a good speech?" 

She laughed, but returned no answer. 

"How long will it take," said I, "for the people of this 
liberal and prosperous colony to forget all about my exploit?" 

"They can think of nothing but the gold diggings. If I 
were a man I would go and dig. Mr. Carey was saying yes- 
terday that he met a man who, in three days, had found gold 
at a place called Ophir worth eleven hundred pounds. His 
cradle cost him five shillings, and his whole outfit two pounds 

"I'm going home to London," said I, and I began to whistle. 

Presently I said, "I may now consider myself very well off. 
What don't I owe Brigstock? He stole me, and now behold 
me ! I'm worth seven hundred pounds odd, in what is termed 
hard cash; I've obtained command at twelve pounds a month ; 
the agents assure me that the owners are not likely to resist 
any modest claims I may make for salvage — for preserving the 
ship and most of the cargo anyhow. There's no earthly 
reason, now that I'm skipper of the vessel, why I shouldn't go 
on holding that post till they give me another appointment, 
unless I go into steam, which I've rather a fancy for. Don't 
I owe Brigstock much, Kate?" 

"Why, yes, as you put it." 

"He brought us together, Kate." 

"In the middle of the ocean." 

**I once said you should sail home with me in the cuddy of 
the Earl of Leicester, Do you remember?" 

She was silent. I felt for, and found her hand, and held it. 

"Do you remember?" I repeated. 


"I also, on several occasions, said that you were my only 


"You always put Alice Perry before me." 

"Chaw, my honeybird! See here, Kate. You know what's 
coming; not that I feel it in your hand, though most girls, it's 
said, tremble on these occasions. You know what's coming, 

**How can I imagine?" 

"Will you be my wife?" 

"O Charlie! Are you in earnest?" 

"Do you think I'm old Harding or Jupe Jackson? In 
earnest!" and here I put my arm round her waist. 

She made no fuss, but said quite calmly, "Charlie, I love 
you, and if I did not know that, as a wife, I should be a burden 
to you, I'd say yes. Think it over, dear; you'll have plenty of 
leisure while sailing home, and you may come out here again. 
If you do, and are still of the same mind, you'll find me ready. " 

"Perhaps married," said I. 


"Think! You are the sweetest girl in this colony. How 
long shall you remain single? There may be a jolly old 
squatter there, or there," cried I, pointing through one win- 
dow, then through the other, "with a fortune of a hundred 
thousand waiting for you. What though the iron in times 
gone by did enter his ankles? His soul is purged of the Old 
Bailey. He's now a fine old gentleman with such another 
house to live in as Roslyn Hall or Larbert Cottage ; he drives 
a better turnout than the governor's, and has but another 
hurdle or two to jump for the Premiership. Give me this 
hand before he takes it!" said I, squeezing her fingers. 

She laughed softly and nervously, and said, "You're not 
old enough to marry." 

"Don't believe it!" 

"You can't know your own mind." 

"I know my own heart." 

"O Charlie, I wish I knew what to do!" 

And now I really felt the dear girl's hand tremble. 

"Say yes. They were quick enough aboard ship. Han- 
nah didn't keep Brigstock waiting in this fashion." 

Then losing patience I caught her in my arms, brought her 
face to mine, and held her till she said yes, by which time we 
were within three minutes of Mrs. Carey's house. 

So reluctant are girls to get married ! 

I sailed from Sydney a married man, in command of the 
Earl of Leicester y on the 24th of October, 1851, and with me 
went my young wife and six saloon and fourteen steerage 


passengers. The voyage home was as flat and commonplace 
a procession of weeks, as the passage out had been feverishly 
exciting with incident, menace, and ever-haunting peril ; and 
we anchored in the River Thames, January 30, 1852, without 
a log-entry good enough to detain the eye for a moment. 

You will not suppose that in all these months I had for- 
gotten the Hebe^ and Captain Cadman and Mr. Fletcher of 
Bristol. Ever since the hour of my regaining consciousness 
on the great Salvage Island, I had determined, when I got 
home, to swear an information against the scoundrels who, 
whether they had succeeded or not in defrauding the under- 
writers, were to all intents and purposes my murderers. And 
now my ship was hardly berthed in the West India Docks 
when I received news of the Hebe, 

Messrs. Norton & Jackson had, as may be supposed, writ- 
ten a full account of my experiences to the owners of the Earl 
of Leicester by an early ship soon after my arrival at Sydney, 
therefore on my meeting Mr. Donald Grant, a partner in the 
firm, almost the first words he addressed to me were: 

"Did you hear as you came up Channel that they succeeded 
in wrecking the Hebe in Table Bay? but so clumsily that the 
man Fletcher was drowned, along with two of the crew; so 
clumsily indeed, that the rogue Cadman, through overtalking 
himself with Fletcher during the passage out, put it into the 
power of the crew to inform against him? Portions of the 
cargo which washed ashore were examined; the wreck, as she 
lay stranded, was overhauled, and Cadman was sent home to 
take his trial on the charge of casting the brig away." 

I listened with open-mouthed, devouring attention, 
astounded, delighted. 

'Is Cadman in custody in this country?" 
'Aye, they have him snug and tight in the Old Bailey." 
Oh, well, sir, I do thank God for that! 1*11 give evidence 
against him. Thunder! but I'm grateful I*m in time!" 

As early as possible I procured the address of the solicitors 
for the prosecution. They welcomed me. It seems that the 
man had almost slipped through their fingers. The ship he 
had been sent home in touched at Madeira, and Cadman 
escaped by swimming to a vessel that lay closer inshore than 
his own; he hung by her cable — it was night-time — and called 
for help, and was put ashore by the ship's boat; the seamen, 
who were French, supposing that he belonged to the island, 
"and had been capsized while out fishing. 

He secreted himself to so much purpose that this advertise- 
ment was widely distributed: 

< <- 

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Whereas James Cadman, Master Mariner, late Captain of the brig Hehi^ 
bound from Bristol to Capetown in the month of March last, and wrecked 
off Green Point in Table Bay in the month of May last, stands charged with 
felony for having willfully destroyed the said ship Hebe on her said voyage, 
for the purpose of defrauding the Insurance Companies, or Underwriters, 
who had effected Insurance by the said vessel — A Reward of ;f lOO will be 
paid to any person who will lodge him in any of Her Majesty's jails uppn an 
application to 

Here followed the name of an insurance office, together 
with a description of Cadman, which I own made me IStugh, 
for it was exceedingly good. 

Cadman escaped from Madeira in a schooner; his adven- 
tures afterward I am unable to relate; when next heard of he 
had arrived in England in the William WaHacty from Cape de 
Verde, whether in custody or not I cannot say ; on landing, 
he was immediately collared and locked up. 

His trial took place in April, at the Central Criminal Court. 
There was yet a fortnight till the sailing of the Earl of Leices- 
ter^ and I was able to attend the trial without inconvenience. 
Cadman, I presume, did not know that I was to be called, 
and I shall never forget the scoundrel's face when he saw me. 
For months he had thought of me as dead. Fletcher had 
come off from the island, and told him he had thrown me over 
a hundred feet of cliff. It is no trifling shock to stumble 
suddenly upon a man whom you have been told is dead, and 
are used to think of as buried; but how volcanic must be the 
emotions of one who, on a sudden, meets face to face a person 
whom he knows was murdered, and in whose assassination he 
was concerned ! 

The visage of the miscreant, at sight of me, would have 
transported him, though there had been no other evidence of 
his guilt. I see him now, as he stands in the dock, eying me 
with his malevolent, askant gaze, motionless, yellow, every 
muscle of his face rigid, as though I had been the devil fleshed 
in the most frightful of the monkish imagination of that spirit, 
waiting for the Judge to pass sentence to fly away with him. 

The man was of course guilty, and the jury pronounced him 
so, that is, of casting the Hebe away (he was not charged with 
conspiring to murder me, possibly because they could not have 
brought it home to him). The evidence was damning, and I 
had the satisfaction of hearing the judge sentence James Cad- 
man to be transported beyond the seas for the term of his 
natural life. 

I was in Sydney again in August, 1852, and heard that an 


armed brig, which had been dispatched to search for the Brig- 
stock settlement, had returned without having anything to 
report. I saw her log book, and understood why they had not 
fallen in with BulFs Island. Some pressure, as the term is, 
was put upon me to disclose the men's whereabouts, but I 
kept the oath and the secret with an obstinacy worthy a better 

However, when a voyage later I was again at Sydney, they 
had news to give me. A colonial trader belonging to Mel- 
bourne had spoken a whaler; the captains had exchanged visits 
during a prolonged calm; and the whaling captain told the 
other that he had touched at an island he had once or twice 
visited for water and nuts, and, greatly to his surprise, found it 
inhabited by white men and women. He said that the chief 
of the party was one Brigstock, a grave, formal, solemn-faced 
fellow. They had built themselves a village, and appeared to 
want for nothing, yet some of them seemed restless and uneasy. 
The whaling skipper, who had heard of the affair of the Earl 
of Leicester^ guessed who those people were, and told them 
that the governor of New South Wales had dispatched an 
armed vessel in search of them. He also gave them the news 
of the discovery of gold in the Wellington and Bathurst dis- 
tricts; this intelligence he had got from a Yankee at the 
Sandwich Islands. 

The little trading schooner arrived at Melbourne with this 
report, which was immediately forwarded to the governor at 
Sydney. No latitude and longitude had been stated by the 
whaling skipper, but the master of the schooner gathered from 
the other's conversation that the island the Brigstock party 
had settled was situated on the parallel of Hercules' Island, 
some leagues to the eastward of it. 

The armed brig found the island without difficulty ; a boat's 
crew went ashore; the village, as described by the whaling 
skipper, was discovered, charmingly situated in a beautiful 
valley near the great lagoon; every house stood in a large 
inclosed garden, but not a living creature was to be seen! 

The goods taken from the hold of the Earl of Leicester were 
distributed among the houses, or stored in a little gallery of 
natural caverns on the north shore of the island. They were 
collected and taken on board, and when they were examined 
at Sydney the quantity missing — chiefly tinned food, wearing 
apparel, blankets, and the like — did not exceed in value the 
amount the ship was indebted to the sailors for wages. 

Of Brigstock and his family of settlers nothing was ever 
heard — nothing, at all events, that reached my ears. The 


boats they had taken had not been seen by the people of the 
armed brig; it was assumed that the party had gone aboard a 
vessel in them, and that they had been held in discharge of 
the cost of giving the women a passage — tlTe men working it 
out for themselves. No doubt the people had been alarmed 
by learning that an armed brig was seeking them; their views, 
too, on settling and becoming fathers and elders might also 
have been influenced by the news of gold in a continent that 
was hard by. Likely enough, they all went secretly to some 
Australian port, and there dispersed, each man taking his 
partner with him — or not! as it might have happened. I own 
I lamented this failure of Brigstock's scheme. He deserved 
a better fortune. Spite of his and the men's inhuman usage 
of me, I am bound to say a straighter-headed, more sober, 
respectable body of men never swing in hammocks at sea. I 
had great hope of their establishing a successful little colony, 
and was astonished to learn that, after they had built homes for 
themselves, they had suffered the news of a brig being in search 
of them to break them up. 

Now for a final curious incident: it was in this same year 
of 1853, and my ship was lying abreast of the wool sheds at 
Sydney, loaded down to the chain-plate bolts, ready to sail in 
three days. I was writing a letter at the cuddy table, when my 
chief officer came in, and said that a lady was on the quay 
side asking permission to step aboard and see me. 
Doesn't she give her name?** said I. 
No, sir. She's a handsome woman, finely dressed, yet 
she don't look a lady either.** 

•'Bring her aboard, and show her aft here,*' said I. 

I went on with my letter. Presently I was sensible of some- 
body entering the cuddy door. I dropped my pen, started 
up, looked, and yet looked again, almost as stiff with the 
paralysis of astonishment as Cadman had been at sight of me. 

It was Alice Perry ! 

I recognized her in a moment, for all that I had reckoned 
her dead as the ooze at the bottom of the salt sea. She was 
dressed as fashionably as any grand lady in Sydney at that 
time; the sight of me filled her face with color; her eyes 
sparkled; and she advanced, her hand extended, with one of 
her well-remembered smiles, a very glare of large white teeth. 

**Capt*n,'* she cried, **do you want an *ousemaid?** And 
she burst into one of her hysteric, shrieking laughs, to the 
amazement of the mate, a sober, slow-minded Irishman, who 
stood viewing us at the cuddy door. 

I peered at her with my head stretched forward, like a game- 


cock looking at another, incredulous of the evidence of my 
vision. I then said, taking her hand: 

**I thought you were drowned?" 

**I ought to be," she answered; "and all along of you, too 
— but that's passed." Yet she gave me a look as she said 
this, which made me fancy it was not quite so. 

I made her sit down, and sat beside her, and then after I 
had answered the fifty questions she plied me with — if it was 
true I had married Kate Darnley; if I could tell her what 
had become of my crew of girls, and how they were doing ; 
if it was true the Brigstock settlement had been broken up, 
and so on — she related her extraordinary story. 

She told it with her eyes on "fire, her cheeks hot as a tropic 
sunset, but with a most intrepid audacious expression of face. 

She had thought herself in love with me, and so she might 
have been, she said ; her jealousy was making a devil of her; 
often when Kate Darnley had been quietly talking with her, 
she had scarcely been able to restrain her passion of desire to 
stab her to the heart. She feared she would go mad. She 
was in secret most horribly miserable; so she resolved to 
destroy herself. 

The night she was missing, after writing her strange letter 
to me she dropped down over the bows (as I had supposed) 
and sank silently. The ship rippled onward, leaving her 
floating astern ; she declared she floated an hour in full con- 
sciousness watching the stars, and wondering if God would 
forgive her. All then was blank till, coming to her senses, 
she found herself in a native hut, watched by a number of 
dusky men and women. 

Undoubtedly she had been picked up by the canoe whose 
people I had heard hallooing, that speck I had noticed in the 
midst of the silver under the moon. The natives treated her 
with great humanity. An old chief asked her to be his wife. 
They offered her no indignities, and let her do as she liked. 
As her male attire wore out, they furnished her with a cover- 
ing of tappa. She lived in this condition for seven months, 
during which time she never saw a ship. 

At last, one morning a small bark appeared off the island; 
at her request, without the least manifestation of reluctance, 
the natives put her aboard, and she was carried to Hobart 
Town, where she married a young butcher. 

Her husband, hearing of the gold rush, brought her to 
Australia, where he was fortunate enough to pick up in a few 
months a fortune of thirty thousand pounds. She was living, 
she told me, in a little villa at a place called (I forget the 



name). Would I visit her? Would I honor her and her 
husband by dining with them next day? My engagements 
would not admit of this, otherwise nothing would have given 
me more pleasure than to eat a piece of Australian mutton 
with my saucy, handsome sailor-girl, Alice. Before going she 
told me the savages had stolen her whistle! 

The next voyage I made was to India; when I was again in 
Sydney I learned that Alice had died two months before the 
ship's arrival. 



A < 





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